Stock futures pointed to a slightly higher open for equities on Friday after steep declines in the previous session, with futures for the S&P 500, for the Dow Jones and for the Nasdaq 100 all up 0.2 percent.
U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke is due to address central bankers at an annual symposium in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, at 1400 GMT. His speech last year laid the groundwork for the Fed's $600 billion bond-buying program to revive the economy.
Bernanke is unlikely to announce a third round of bond buying. The Fed has already bought $2.3 trillion in longer-term securities, a policy known as quantitative easing. Its most recent program, dubbed QE2, ended in June. But he could acknowledge the economy's strains and may show a willingness to take other, relatively modest, steps to shore up the recovery.
James Bullard, president of the St. Louis Fed, said on Thursday that a bid by the Fed to lower long-term interest rates further by rebalancing its portfolio would probably not have much impact.
The Commerce Department will release its second reading of U.S. second-quarter GDP data at 8:30 a.m. EDT, with economists forecasting a 1.1 percent annualized pace of growth, against 1.3 percent growth in the first reading.
North Carolina braced on Friday for a direct hit from Hurricane Irene, cities along the U.S. east coast were on alert and millions of beach goers cut short vacations to escape the powerful storm.
Preliminary second-quarter corporate profits data is due at 8:30 a.m. EDT. In the revised Q1 report, corporate profits rose 1.2 percent.
American International Group
At 9:55 a.m. EDT, Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan Surveys of Consumers release the August final consumer sentiment index. Economists in a Reuters survey expect a reading of 56.0 compared with 54.9 in the preliminary August report.
Luxury jeweler Tiffany & Co
The top official behind Standard & Poor's downgrade of the United States said on Friday it was not to blame for August's stock market rout, and warned that developed nations still needed to get their act together to tackle their mountains of debt.
European shares <.FTEU3> fell 0.7 percent in early trade on Friday on nervousness ahead of Bernanke's speech, while Japan's Nikkei stock average <.N225> rose 0.3 percent on bargain-hunting.
The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> dropped 170.89 points, or 1.51 percent, to 11,149.82 on Thursday. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX> fell 18.33 points, or 1.56 percent, to 1,159.27. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> lost 48.06 points, or 1.95 percent, to 2,419.63.
(Reporting by Atul Prakash; Editing by Hans-Juergen Peters)