Stock index futures pointed to a slightly higher open on Friday and looked to extend gains that have taken equities to highs not seen since before the 2008 collapse of Lehman Brothers.
The S&P has risen for four of the past five days and is up 8.4 percent for the year, and the swiftness and magnitude of the gains have created concern a pullback could be in sight.
Gains have come on the back of signs Europe was making progress in dealing with the sovereign debt crisis, as well as improved domestic economic data, suggesting that a weak datapoint could serve as a catalyst for a pullback.
We're rapidly approaching the point where expectations are so high we could sell off on even in-line numbers, said James Dailey, portfolio manager at TEAM Asset Strategy Fund in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
I'd be shocked if we can move much higher on this leg, Dailey said. We need some consolidation since we've pretty much gone straight up since October.
The benchmark S&P 500 index was not far from 1,370, considered the upper end of a technical barrier and a level not since 2008. In the past four sessions, the S&P has hovered around 1,360 and closed at a 9-month high on Thursday.
S&P 500 futures rose 2.1 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 16 points, and Nasdaq 100 futures put on 2.25 points.
The February Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan Surveys of Consumers will be released at 9:55 a.m. EST (1455 GMT) and economists expect a reading of 73 versus 72.5 in the preliminary February report.
In addition, January new home sales will be released at 10:00 a.m. EST (1500 GMT), and the forecast called for 315,000 units, compared with 307,000 last month.
U.S. crude oil futures rose 0.5 percent while the U.S. dollar index <.DXY> was down 0.4 percent. Investors have worried that a recent spike in crude prides could weigh on consumer spending.
If it goes much higher, it will be a hurdle for an economy that is already vulnerable, Dailey said.
American International Group Inc
J.C. Penney Co
According to Thomson Reuters data through Thursday morning, of the 446 in the S&P 500 that have reported earnings, 63 percent topped expectations. That was below the 70 percent average beat in the past four quarters, but slightly above the average of 62 percent since 1994.
Kenneth Cole Productions Inc
Equities rose on Thursday after data showed the U.S. labor market remained on the mend, but they stalled as the market approached lofty levels.
(Reporting by Ryan Vlastelica; editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)