U.S. stock index futures point to a lower opening to markets on Friday ahead of the publication of new home sales data, and following the release of gross domestic product data from Germany and the UK, which suggest the recovery in Europe may not be a flash in the pan.
Futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average were down 0.15 percent, while futures on the Standard & Poor's 500 Index and those on the Nasdaq 100 Index were both down 0.12 percent.
Investors are expected to focus on new home sales data for July, to be released by the U.S. Census Bureau at 10 a.m. EDT. Analysts expect new home sales -- the annualized number of new single-family homes that were sold during the previous month -- may probably decrease to 487,000 in July from 497,000 in the previous month, while on a month-on-month basis new home sales are expected to decline by 1.4 percent after rising 8.3 percent in June.
“We anticipate a relatively subdued set of housing-market activity data for July. The 8.3 percent month-on-month rise in new home sales in June was encouraging, but it is typical for large gains in activity to be followed by some drop-back. We are expecting a 2 percent month-on-month decline to 487,000 annualized in July,” Paul Diggle, an economist at Capital Economics, wrote in a research note.
Investors also are expected to watch the annual conference organized by the Kansas Federal Reserve in Jackson Hole, Wyo., at the end of the week, where central bank governors and economists from around the world will gather to discuss economic policy.
Although many high-profile central bankers, including Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, are not expected to attend the weekend event, investors will hope for more clues about the future of the Fed’s massive bond-buying program.
The retreat, going on at the Jackson Lake Lodge in Grand Teton National Park, is also expected to trigger debate on who might succeed Ben Bernanke as the Fed's next chairman. While Janet Yellen, the Fed's vice chair who is reported to be one of the main contenders for Bernanke's post, is expected to moderate a panel, Larry Summers, said to be her main rival for the nation’s top banking post, is not expected to be there.
In Europe, the Stoxx Europe 600 index recovered some ground to trade flat after trading down 0.82 percent earlier on Friday. London’s FTSE 100 was trading up 0.18 percent, Germany's DAX-30 was flat after being down 0.2 percent and France's CAC-40 was trading down 0.42 percent.
The data released by the German government on Friday showed that Europe’s largest economy grew in the second quarter at 0.9 percent year-on-year and at 0.7 percent on a quarterly basis. The GDP growth was in line with analysts’ estimates. The UK beat expectations marginally to record an annual 1.5 percent growth in GDP in the second quarter.
In Asia, most markets except those in China rebounded, tracking gains on Wall Street, while a weak yen helped Japan’s Nikkei to end up 2.21 percent. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 added 0.94 percent, South Korea’s KOSPI Composite index rallied 1.14 percent and India’s BSE Sensex was trading up 0.87 percent in late afternoon. In China, the Shanghai Composite index ended down 0.47 percent, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index lost 0.15 percent.