Stock index futures pointed to a slightly higher open for equities on Wall Street Friday, with futures for the S&P 500, the Dow Jones and the Nasdaq 100 up 0.2 to 0.3 percent.

Deutsche Boerse AG and NYSE Euronext confirmed Friday plans to sell equity-option businesses across Europe and to give rivals access to a major derivatives clearinghouse, in an effort to win support for their $9 billion merger from antitrust regulators.

The U.S. economy is gaining steam as factories produce more cars and slowing inflation relieves pressure on spending power, putting the country on a stronger footing to resist an economic storm gathering over Europe.

The Conference Board releases at 1500 GMT its report on October leading economic indicators. Economists forecast a 0.6 percent increase compared with a 0.2 percent rise in September.

Economic Cycle Research Institute releases its weekly index of economic activity for November 11. In the previous week the index read 122.3.

H.J. Heinz Co will report quarterly earnings, and some analysts expect the maker of ketchup, Ore-Ida potatoes and other condiments to outperform its peers, due to the large portion of sales it derives from emerging markets. Wall Street has priced in a profit of 80 cents per share, up from 78 cents per share in the same period a year ago.

The trustee liquidating MF Global Holdings Ltd's broker-dealer unit won court permission to distribute $520 million of cash, providing relief to customers whose accounts have been frozen since it went bankrupt.

Shares in Blue Coat Systems were up 13.4 percent after the bell on Thursday as it reported results. However, Salesforce.com Inc fell 7.4 percent after its results.

Japan's Nikkei stock average <.N225> slid below 8,400 to its lowest level in more than a month after surging bond yields in euro zone nations spooked investors and fueled fears of tightening global credit conditions. The index was down 1.2 percent.

Italy's new government has announced far-reaching reforms in response to a European debt crisis that on Thursday pushed borrowing costs for France and Spain sharply higher, and brought tens of thousands of Greeks onto the streets of Athens.

European shares <.FTEU3> were down 0.7 percent on Friday, extending a decline from the previous session, on mounting worries that borrowing costs in several euro zone countries are unsustainably high.

On Thursday, the Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> fell 134.71 points, or 1.13 percent, to 11,770.88. The S&P 500 <.SPX> lost 20.73 points, or 1.68 percent, to 1,216.18. The Nasdaq Composite <.IXIC> dropped 51.62 points, or 1.96 percent, to 2,587.99.

(Reporting by Atul Prakash; Editing by Will Waterman)