Wall Street was poised for a flat open on Friday as a reassessment of the recent sharp market run-up could keep gains in check despite hopes the economic slowdown is moderating.

The S&P 500 closed out its best month in nine years on Thursday, gaining 9.4 percent for April on growing hopes the worst was over for the financial sector and recession-hit economy. Since hitting bear-market lows in early March, the index has surged 29 percent.

There has been a firm bid under the market, said Barry Ritholtz, chief market strategist at Fusion IQ in New York. We've rallied right up to some major resistance, and you have to assume that at some point the market is going to have to catch its breath.

MasterCard Inc , the world's second-largest credit card network, posted quarterly earnings that beat Wall Street estimates as it slashed expenses and increased fees. But the company said revenues will grow less than expected in 2009, sending shares down 4.4 percent to $175.43 in premarket trade.

MetLife Inc fell 3.4 percent to $28.71 after the U.S. life insurer reported a loss Thursday and said Friday it no longer stands behind the earnings guidance given in December.

Clorox Co , which makes the namesake bleach, Glad trash bags and Brita water filters, rose 2.1 percent to $57.20 after it raised its fiscal 2009 earnings outlook.

Shares of Chevron Corp , the No. 2 U.S. oil company, edged up slightly after profit fell in the wake of the sharp drop in oil prices.

On the data front, new orders received by U.S. factories in March are expected to have fallen 0.6 percent from a year earlier after rising 1.8 percent in February, according to the average forecast of 52 economists polled by Reuters.

Other data on tap for the morning includes readings on the Institute for Supply Management's April manufacturing index and the final look at April consumer sentiment.

S&P 500 futures were flat but were above 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 climbed 19 points, and Nasdaq 100 futures were down 1.25 points.

Data is also expected to show that U.S. auto sales plunged to their lowest levels in nearly 30 years in April, with automakers expected to post declines of at least 30 percent from a year earlier.

The data comes a day after U.S. automaker Chrysler LLC filed for bankruptcy and entered into an industry-changing deal with Italy's Fiat SpA .

Shares of Citigroup Inc were up 3 percent at $3.14 ahead of the opening bell. Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group Inc <8316.T> will buy the bank's Japanese broker and key investment banking units for $5.9 billion.

Investors have been encouraged by better-than-expected first-quarter results that added to hopes companies are also starting to hit bottom.

Of the 280 companies in the S&P 500 that have reported earnings to date, 65 percent topped analysts' estimates, according to data compiled by Thomson Reuters as of Thursday. However, many of the analysts' estimates had been reduced to reflect the current economic slump.

Hartford Financial Services Group Inc lost 8.5 percent to $10.50 before the opening bell. The insurance company posted a first-quarter loss after the close on Thursday.

Aon Corp , the world's largest insurance broker, fell 5.1 percent to $40.05 after revenue slipped as investment income fell, while MetLife Inc was down 2.5 percent at $20.00 after the largest U.S. life insurer recorded a loss after Thursday's closing bell.

The Dow and S&P 500 fell on Thursday after Chrysler's bankruptcy filing undercut optimism about upbeat corporate profits and reassuring job market data.

(Reporting by Leah Schnurr; editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)