Stocks were set to open lower on Friday after a mixed U.S. payrolls report failed to confirm heightened expectations of a healing labor market.
The U.S. economy created 103,000 jobs in December, far below the 175,000 economists had forecast, but the unemployment rate dropped to 9.4 percent, the lowest since May 2009.
Overbought levels on the S&P 500 <.SPX> opened the door to the possibility of declines after payrolls disappointed. Short-term technical support for the benchmark was found near 1,260, its 14-day moving average. The S&P closed at 1,273.85 on Thursday.
Economists had revised their forecasts higher after Wednesday's surprising strong ADP private-sector employment figures, which were triple forecasts.
The big benefit here is that the unemployment rate dropped to 9.4 percent. I would categorize this as continued positive momentum and evidence that the economy is improving and growing, said Oliver Pursche, president at Gary Goldberg Financial Services in Suffern, New York.
S&P 500 futures fell 2.3 points, and 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 were down 9 points, and Nasdaq 100 futures dipped 1 point.
(Reporting by Rodrigo Campos; editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)