Wall Street was set for a slightly higher open on Friday after data showed durable goods orders rose more than expected in May, a report that could allay fears of a sharp slowdown in factory activity.
But a brief suspension in the trading of some big Italian banks raised new concerns about the European debt crisis that have weighed on the market for months.
New orders for long-lasting U.S. manufactured goods increased 1.9 percent after dropping 2.7 percent in April as bookings for transportation equipment rebounded strongly. For story:
This is giving us a bit of a relief bounce off the lows, but is it enough to turn us? That depends on how the headlines develop throughout the day, said Roger Volz, director of cash equities at BGC Financial in New York.
S&P 500 futures rose 3 points and above fair value, a formula that evaluates pricing by taking into account interest rates, dividends and time to expiration of the contract. Dow Jones industrial average futures gained 24 points, and Nasdaq 100 futures added 8.75 points.
U.S. stocks closed way off session lows on Thursday but lingering economic uncertainty ultimately drove the S&P lower, pushing the index within less than a half point of its 200-day moving average at one point -- a line the bulls have been able to hold since last September.
It is difficult to become overly bullish or overly bearish at current S&P 500 levels. Ari Wald, equity strategist at Brown Brothers Harriman, wrote in a research note.
On one hand, market breadth has not picked up enough on the downside to suggest significant internal deterioration. On the other, weak upside attempts despite 200-day moving average support and an oversold inflection by near-term momentum gauges suggests the correction is still intact.
He added that key levels to monitor on the S&P 500 would be 1,230 on the downside and 1,360 on the upside. The S&P closed at 1,283.50 on Thursday.
Shares in Europe and the euro dipped against the dollar on news of the Italian banks as well as continued nervousness over Greece's ability to execute austerity measures. Italian banks UniCredit SpA
Micron Technology Inc
(Reporting by Angela Moon; Additional reporting by Ryan Vlastelica; editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)