Futures on the major U.S. indices point to a slight rebound on Wall Street Friday after declining in the last two sessions.
Futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average were up 0.22 percent, futures on the Standard & Poor's 500 Index were up 0.25 percent and those on the Nasdaq 100 Index were up 0.27 percent.
U.S. stock markets ended on a negative note for a second straight day Thursday as sentiment was weighed down by weak economic reports and uncertainty over the current U.S. monetary stimulus program. A report on initial jobless claims and the Philadelphia Fed Business Outlook Survey came in weaker than expected.
Weekly jobless claims climbed up to 362,000 last week after declining to 342,000 the previous week, while the Philly Fed Manufacturing Index declined to an eight-month low of -12.5 when a reading of 1.0 was expected by analysts.
Meanwhile, concerns that the U.S. Federal Reserve may pull back from its asset-buying program sooner than expected also weighed on risky assets. Minutes from the Federal Open Market Committee's (FOMC) January policy meeting showed that officials remained largely divided on the $85 billion-per-month asset-buying scheme.
Several members expressed concerns about potential costs and risks rising from further asset purchases, and a number of them stated that the central bank might have to slow or halt its asset-buying program before there's substantial improvement in the outlook for the labor market.
Data from the euro zone also pointed to weak conditions in the region that added to the downward move. The February Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) for the euro zone suggested that the 17-nation currency bloc continued to remain weak in the beginning of 2013. The headline index for February declined to 47.8 from 47.9 in January and also widely missed analysts’ estimate for a reading of 48.4.
On the corporate front, shares of Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ), Marvell Technology Group Ltd. (NASDAQ: MRVL) and American International Group Inc. (NYSE: AIG) will be in focus after their quarterly earnings were reported late Thursday.
Hewlett-Packard reported first quarter net profit of $1.2 billion or $0.63 per share, down from $1.5 billion or $0.73 per share in the same period last year. Adjusted net profit declined to $1.6 billion or $0.82 per share from $1.8 billion or $0.92 per share last year but topped Reuters’ estimate of $0.71 per share.
European stock markets were trading higher after plunging in the previous session. London's FTSE 100 gained 0.56 percent, France's CAC-40 surged 0.99 percent and Germany's DAX gained 0.58 percent.
Asian stock markets were mixed Friday as weak economic data from Europe weighed on the sentiment. Meanwhile, official data showed that China’s new home prices in most of the government-tracked cities rose in January, sparking fresh price-curb concerns.
Japan’s Nikkei gained 0.68 percent and South Korea’s KOSPI Composite rose 0.18 percent, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng declined 0.54 percent and the Chinese Shanghai Composite slipped 0.51 percent.