Stock index futures pointed to a higher open on Friday after a string of declines, with equities on track for their strongest quarter in more than two years.
The S&P 500 has fallen for three straight days but remains up 2.8 percent in March and up almost 12 percent for the first quarter. If could be the best start to the year since 1998 and the index's best quarter since the third period of 2009.
S&P 500 futures rose 6 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 added 52 points, and Nasdaq 100 futures rose 9.25 points.
We've had three days of declines, so it isn't surprising to see a bounce today, especially on the last day of the quarter, but the data shows that while the economy is on a decent trajectory, growth may not be as strong as some would like, said Wayne Kaufman, chief market analyst at John Thomas Financial in New York.
U.S. consumer spending in February increased by the most in seven months, even as personal income rose modestly, which could prompt analysts to scale back expectations of a sharp pullback in growth this quarter. Equities barely moved after the data.
The Institute of Supply Management-Chicago releases the March index of manufacturing activity at 9:45 a.m. EDT (1345 GMT), while the final March Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan Surveys of Consumers is due at 9:55 a.m. EDT (1355 GMT).
The forecast is for manufacturing at 63.0, compared with 64.0 in February, while consumer confidence is seen rising to 74.7 from 74.3 in the preliminary report.
Some analysts look for a market pullback in the second quarter after the strong early run as investors seek confirmation the economic recovery will not stall.
Tech shares <.GSPT>, which have surged 21.5 percent this quarter, are seen as vulnerable, especially if Apple Inc
Research in Motion Ltd
Verizon Communications Inc
The Dow managed a slim gain on Thursday while the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq shook off most of their earlier losses to end slightly lower as investors bought blue chips that have been rallying throughout the quarter.
(Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)