Wall Street was set for a modestly higher open on Friday as investors were optimistic about economic recovery prospects and FedEx said its first-quarter earnings would exceed expectations.
Positive comments from Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and surprisingly strong industrial output and other economic data from China underscored optimism that the global economy is pulling out of a slump.
Geithner said on Thursday that with a strengthening economy the government can end some of the extraordinary support put in place for markets and prepare for a slow recovery.
Appearing before the Congressional Oversight Panel for the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program, Geithner said the economy was in far better shape now than a year ago, when it was on the verge of collapse, though it still had problems.
FedEx and UPS are really good indicators for the market, said Dave Rovelli, managing director of U.S. equity trading at Canaccord Adams in New York.
Obviously people are shipping more. People look at that as a bullish sign for the economy. And the market did spike on that news.
S&P 500 futures rose 3.10 points and 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 gained 19 point, and Nasdaq 100 futures added 3 points.
But stocks could be ripe for profit taking after racking up a fifth day of gains on Thursday, the longest winning streak since November.
Data on tap includes the Reuters/University of Michigan Surveys of Consumers preliminary September consumer sentiment index at 9:55 a.m. EDT.
Economists in a Reuters survey expect a reading of 67.3 compared with 65.7 in the final August report.
Investors have been looking for any signs of life from the consumer as anemic spending remains one of the biggest challenges facing a strong recovery.
National Semiconductor Corp
Shares of American International Group Inc
Campbell Soup Co's
(Reporting by Leah Schnurr; editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)