Stock index futures pointed to a higher open on Friday as a better-than-expected reading on second-quarter economic growth relieved investors ahead of a speech from Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke.
Gross domestic product slowed more sharply than initially thought, held back by the largest increase in imports in 26 years, but the reading was better than forecast and came after a string of bearish reports.
Recent economic data has been so very weak, but the GDP numbers today show that this may not be the end of the world, said Ryan Detrick, senior technical strategist at Schaeffer's Investment Research in Cincinnati, Ohio. We are seeing a relief rally because we saw a lot of selling coming into it. But I see this more as a short-term bounce.
Bernanke will speak at 10 a.m. EDT (1400 GMT) at a retreat for central bankers at Jackson Hole, Wyoming. He may discuss prospects for the world's biggest economy but isn't expected to offer clues on whether the Fed will pump more cash into the economy to keep the recovery going.
If Bernanke does suggest that economic conditions warrant additional aggressive easing, analysts expect an equities sell-off.
Saying he's ready to take additional steps would be a double-edged sword, said James Meyer, chief investment officer at Tower Bridge Advisers in West Conshohocken, Pennsylvania. It would say that the economy is in weaker shape than we thought, and who knows how effective the measures would be. But at the same time, we might rally in the short term because it's a sugar high.
S&P 500 futures rose 7.5 points and were above 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 62 points, and Nasdaq 100 futures were up 12.5 points.
Luxury retailer Tiffany & Co
Shares of the Dow component slid nearly 1 percent to $60.80 before the bell.
Also on tap Friday, the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan Surveys of Consumers' final August consumer sentiment index reading is due at 9:55 a.m. EDT (1355 GMT). Economists look for a reading of 69.6, a repeat of the previous number.
The Dow closed below 10,000 points on Thursday, the first time it ended below that psychologically important level since July 6.
(Additional reporting by Angela Moon; editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)