Stock index futures were little changed on Friday, with the benchmark S&P 500 on track for its best weekly performance in a month ahead of data on retail sales and consumer sentiment.
Investors are looking for signals of returning consumer health when the U.S. Commerce Department releases May retail sales, the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan preliminary June consumer sentiment index, and the Commerce Department issues Business Inventories for April.
Economists expect an 0.2 percent increase in retail sales versus the prior 0.4 percent rise, a sentiment reading of 74.5 against the prior 73.6, and a 0.5 percent increase in inventories over the previous 0.4 percent.
When we look at what is going on, it's hard to draw any conclusions other than things are getting very slowly better, said Barry Ritholtz, director of equity research at Fusion IQ in New York.
(But) we have to get a little bit cautious about drawing long-term conclusions from short-term seasonal situations.
S&P 500 futures rose 0.6 point but were slightly below fair value, a formula that evaluates pricing by taking into account interest rates, dividends and time to expiration on the contract. Dow Jones industrial average futures gained 20 points, and Nasdaq 100 futures were up 2.75 points.
The euro, used as a proxy for confidence in the euro zone in recent weeks, gained 0.2 percent versus the dollar, supported on the back of higher European shares.
U.S.-listed shares of BP Plc climbed 5 percent to $34.40 as supportive comments from UK officials outweighing reports that the Gulf of Mexico oil spill was much bigger than estimated.
National Semiconductor Corp will be in view after delivering a margin and revenue forecast above estimates, signaling that demand is bouncing back after an horrendous 2009 for the microchip industry.
Dell Inc will garner attention after it said it is in talks with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission over an investigation into its accounting practices and relationship with chipmaker Intel Corp . Dell also said it set a $100 million reserve for a potential settlement.
Wendy's/Arby's Group Inc Chairman Nelson Peltz said an unnamed party is interested in a potential deal, sending its shares up nearly 12 percent after hours.
U.S. stocks posted their best day in the last nine on Thursday, responding to signs of health in the euro debt market and on a bounce-back for energy shares crushed in the previous day's sell-off.
(Reporting by Chuck Mikolajczak; editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)