Stock index futures pointed to a flat open on Friday following data that showed U.S. employers cut fewer-than-expected jobs in August even as the unemployment rate hit a 26-year high.

Wall Street is focused on unemployment as it is the biggest weight on the nascent recovery. The Labor Department said the unemployment rate rose to 9.7, though the decline in payrolls was the smallest in a year at 216,000. Analysts in a Reuters poll had forecast 225,000 job cuts.

The report is a little bit better than people thought, said John Canally, economist for LPL Financial in Boston. The key takeaway is that there are fewer firings, but the private sector hasn't begun to hire.

S&P 500 futures were flat and were below fair value, a formula that evaluates pricing by taking into account interest rates, dividends and time to expiration on the contract. Dow Jones industrial average futures gained 7 points, and Nasdaq 100 futures added 2.25 points.

Financial stocks were among gainers in premarket trading. Bank of America Corp rose 1 percent to $17.03 while the Financial Select Sector SPDR exchange-traded fund gained 0.6 percent.

Oil futures fell to below $68 a barrel, while gold steadied around $990 an ounce, consolidating the biggest two-day gain since March. Base metals were broadly higher.

(Additional reporting by Ellen Freilich; Editing by Padraic Cassidy)