Futures for the Dow Jones industrial average, the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq 100 rose 0.2 to 0.3 percent, pointing to a firmer start on Wall Street on Friday.

At 8.30 a.m. ET, Commerce Department releases its final estimate of Q4 Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth. Economists in a Reuters survey forecast a 5.9 percent annualized rate of growth, a repeat of the preliminary Q4 estimate.

The White House plans to announce on Friday it will require lenders to lower the mortgage payments of some unemployed workers and encourage lenders to eliminate some principal debt of homeowners who owe more than their home is worth, sources familiar with the plan said on Thursday.

Swiss banking giant UBS has slashed about 200 jobs in its U.S. brokerage unit, a source told Reuters. The job losses account for nearly 1.2 percent of the brokerage unit's 16,295 employees. A bulk of the job cuts were announced in the past two days, according to the Wall Street Journal. UBS declined to comment.

China will resume yuan appreciation in the second quarter but will keep its currency on a short leash, allowing a mere 3 percent rise over the next 12 months, according to a Reuters poll.

Commerce Department releases fourth quarter corporate profits at 8.30 a.m. Economists in a Reuters survey forecast a 10.0 percent rise versus a 12.7 percent increase in the previous report.

At 9.55 a.m., Reuters/University of Michigan Surveys of Consumers release final March consumer sentiment index. Economists in a expect a reading of 73.0, compared with 73.6 in the final February report.

News Corp will charge readers for online versions of its UK Times and Sunday Times newspapers from June, becoming the first media firm to test consumers' appetite to pay for mass-market news online. Access to two new websites for the two titles will cost 1 pound ($1.49) per day or 2 pounds for a week. Subscribers to the print versions will get free access, News Corp said on Friday.

Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) releases its weekly index of economic activity for March 19 at 10.30 a.m. In the prior week the index read 130.9.

Shares of Accenture Plc fell 2.1 percent to $40.90 in extended trading on Thursday after the company reported its second-quarter results.

General Motors Co expects to repay $1 billion to the U.S. Treasury on Wednesday, attempting to settle the loan with the government ahead of schedule, the Wall Street Journal said, citing a person familiar with the plan. GM could not be immediately reached for comment by Reuters.

Finish Line shares rose 7.5 percent to $15.76 late on Thursday after the company reported fourth-quarter results.

European shares fell on Friday, after closing at their highest level in nearly 18 months, with banks the major losers, as fears still remained about peripheral economies in Europe. The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 <.FTEU3> index of top shares was down 0.3 percent.

Euro zone leaders agreed on Thursday to create a joint financial safety net with the IMF to help debt-ridden Greece and to try to restore confidence in their common currency after weeks of wrangling.

U.S. stocks ended flat on Thursday, dropping off earlier highs as a weak U.S. bond auction and global debt concerns continued to weigh on investor sentiment.

The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> was up 5.06 points, or 0.05 percent, to end at 10,841.21. But the Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX> was down 1.99 points, or 0.17 percent, at 1,165.73. And the Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> was down 1.35 points, or 0.06 percent, at 2,397.41.

Japan's Nikkei average <.N225> climbed 1.6 percent to its highest close in 18 months on Friday as recent weakness in the yen buoyed exporters, and helped by investors looking to secure dividends before the financial year end.

(Reporting by Atul Prakash; Editing by Hans Peters)