U.S. stock index futures point to a flat open on Friday ahead of the National Association of Realtors' (NAR) Pending Home Sales Index report.
Futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average were down 0.03 percent, futures on the Standard & Poor's 500 Index were up 0.04 percent, and those on the Nasdaq 100 Index were up 0.10 percent.
Investors are likely to focus on the Pending Home Sales Index, which measures the change in the number of homes under contract to be sold but still awaiting the closing transaction, excluding new construction, to be reported Friday. It is expected that the report will show a 1 percent rise in November, down from a 5.2 percent increase in October.
On Thursday, U.S. stocks fell as investor sentiment continued to remain negative amid concerns that Congressional leaders were not close to reaching an agreement to finalize a deal to avoid the fiscal cliff.
Meanwhile, according to data released Thursday by the Department of Labor, the initial jobless claims report, which measures the number of individuals who filed for unemployment insurance for the first time last week, rose to 350,000 in the week ending Dec. 22, down from 361,000 in the previous week. According to data released Thursday by the Census Bureau, a new home sales report, which measures the annualized number of new single-family homes that were sold during the previous month, rose to 377,000 in November, up from 361,000 in October.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.14 percent, the S&P 500 Index was down 0.12 percent and the Nasdaq Composite Index declined 0.14 percent.
European stocks were mixed Friday with investors maintaining a watchful mode as they tracked U.S. markets overnight. London's FTSE 100 was up 12.61 points, Germany's DAX 30 index fell 2.25 points and France's CAC 40 gained 2.10 points.
Asian markets rose Friday as investor sentiment was lifted by hopes that policymakers in Japan will soon announce more stimulus measures following a report showing the country’s industrial output decreasing in November. According to the data released Friday by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, Japan’s industrial production, which measures the total inflation-adjusted value of output from manufacturers, mines and utilities, fell 1.7 percent in November compared to a 1.6 percent rise in October.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index gained 14.93 points, South Korea’s Kospi Composite rose 9.70 points and Japan’s NIkkei was up 72.20 points.