After ending the previous session mixed, stocks are likely to see modest strength in early trading on Friday. The major index futures are currently indicating a moderately higher open, with the Dow futures up 26 points.
While stocks may see some early strength, however, trading activity may be somewhat subdued due to the May Day holidays taking place in a number of countries around the world. Most of the overseas markets were closed on the day.
Nonetheless, not long after the open, trading could be impacted by the release of the Institute for Supply Management's report on activity in the manufacturing sector in the month of April
The ISM's index of activity in the manufacturing sector is expected to rise to 38.4 in April from 36.3 in March, although a reading below 50 indicates a contraction in the sector.
Most of the regional manufacturing reports have indicated a continued contraction activity, although at a slower pace.
On Thursday, the Institute for Supply Management - Chicago said its regional manufacturing index rose to 40.1 in April from 31.4 in March. Economists had expected a more modest increase to a reading of 35.0.
The Reuters/University of Michigan's revised reading on consumer sentiment in April and the Commerce Department's report on factory orders in March could also impact trading.
Oil giant Chevron (CVX) is also likely to be in focus after the Dow component reported first quarter earnings that fell sharply year-over-year but came in better than analysts had expected.
Chevron reported first quarter earnings of $1.84 billion or $0.92 per share compared to $5.17 billion or $2.48 per share in the year-ago quarter. Analysts had been expecting the company to report earnings of $0.81 per share.
Shares of Exxon Mobil (XOM) saw some weakness on Thursday after the oil giant reported first quarter earnings that fell to $0.92 per share from $2.02 per share in the year-ago quarter and came in below analyst estimates of $0.95 per share.
MetLife (MET), MasterCard (MA), and Clorox (CLX) are among the other big-name companies that have recently reported their quarterly results.
While stocks saw considerable early strength on Thursday, the markets moved lower over the course of the day as traders reacted to news that auto giant Chrysler has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. The major averages eventually ended the day mixed.
Despite the mixed performance on the day, the major averages all closed higher for April, adding to the standout gains posted in March. The Dow rose 7.4 percent for the month, while the Nasdaq and the S&P 500 posted monthly gains of 12.3 percent and 9.4 percent, respectively.
Crude oil futures are rising $0.23 to $51.35 a barrel after the commodity rose $0.15 to $51.12 a barrel on Thursday. Meanwhile, gold futures are easing $6.60 to $884.60 an ounce. In the previous session, the precious metal fell $9.30 to $891.20 an ounce.
On the currency front, the U.S. dollar is trading at 99.411 yen compared to the 98.635 yen it fetched at the close of New York trading on Thursday. At the same time, the dollar is currently valued at $1.3269 versus the euro.
In overseas trading, most of the markets across the Asia-Pacific region were closed for May Day, although the Japanese market remained open. Japan's benchmark Nikkei turned in a strong performance, ending the session up 1.7 percent.
While most of the European markets are also closed for the holiday, there is trading in London, with the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index currently up 0.1 percent.
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