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.
Shares of Chevron Corp
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
Shares of Citigroup Inc
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
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)