U.S. Stock Futures Point to Steady Open

  @MikeObelm.obel@ibtimes.com on January 27 2012 7:23 AM
An NYSE is seen over the trading floor of the New York Stock Exchange
An NYSE is seen over the trading floor of the New York Stock Exchange, October 3, 2008. REUTERS

(REUTERS) -- Stock index futures pointed to a steady open on Wall Street on Friday, with futures for the S&P 500 up 0.02 percent, Dow Jones futures up 0.05 percent and Nasdaq 100 futures up 0.2 percent at 4 a.m. ET.

European stocks dipped in early trade following strong increases in the previous session, as gains sparked by the Federal Reserve's pledge of low interest rates gave way to worries about Portugal, seen as the potential next domino in the euro zone crisis, and uncertainty over Greek debt talks.

The Federal Reserve's latest efforts to bolster the recovery with unprecedented policy tools will hurt the U.S. economy in the long run, a former member of Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke's inner circle suggested on Thursday.

3M Co's  board of directors are divided over whether to extend the contract of chief executive George Buckley once it expires in a month, the Wall Street Journal reported on Friday, citing a person familiar with the matter.

The economy likely grew at its fastest pace in nearly two years at the end of 2011, but a rebuilding of stocks by businesses and weak exports could be early warning signs of a slowdown in early 2012. U.S. gross domestic product is expected to have expanded at a 3.0 percent annual rate in the fourth quarter, according to a Reuters poll.

The yield on the benchmark U.S. Treasury note was steady in Asia on Friday, while the yield on five-year paper was slightly above a multi-decade low as investors awaited U.S. data later in the session that is likely to show the economy has picked up.

Richmond Federal Reserve Bank President Jeffrey Lacker said on Friday he voted against the central bank's decision this week to keep rates near zero until at least late 2014 because he believes rates will need to rise before then.

Juniper Networks and Riverbed Technologies disappointed investors with gloomy first quarter outlooks that were below expectations, raising fears that demand for companies that help manage Internet traffic may be weak for some time.

Cirrus Logic Inc. forecast fourth-quarter revenue higher than analysts' estimates as the analog chipmaker expects to launch several new products during the period.

Delphi Automotive PLC  reported a nearly four-fold increase in fourth-quarter earnings on stronger sales of vehicle electronics and engine systems in its first results since returning as a public company.

Sallie Mae, the largest U.S. student lender, raised its quarterly dividend and said its board authorized a $500 million share buyback program.

A Brazilian prosecutor plans to file criminal charges against Chevron Corp. and some of its local managers within weeks, adding the threat of prison sentences to an $11 billion civil lawsuit as punishment for a November offshore oil spill.

A month-long rally on Wall Street appears to be sputtering as stocks slipped on Thursday in what investors called a possible warning of weakness ahead. Weaker-than-expected home sales figures and a group of mixed earnings reports tempered the market's recent buying interest.

The Dow Jones industrial average was down 22.33 points, or 0.18 percent, at 12,734.63. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index was down 7.60 points, or 0.57 percent, at 1,318.45. The Nasdaq Composite Index was down 13.03 points, or 0.46 percent, at 2,805.28.

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