Stock index futures pointed to a sharply weaker open for equities on Wall Street on Friday, a day after the Nasdaq ended more than 5 percent lower and the S&P 500 slipped 4.5 percent on rising recession fears.

Futures for the S&P 500, for the Dow Jones and for the Nasdaq 100 were down by between 1.7 and 2.0 percent.

Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) releases at 10:30 a.m. EDT its weekly index of economic activity for August 12. In the prior week the index read 127.9.

Bank of America is cutting 3,500 jobs this quarter according to an internal memo, as the biggest U.S. bank grapples with its $1 trillion problem-loan portfolio and growing economic concerns.

Hewlett-Packard Co may spin off the world's largest PC business, part of a series of moves away from the consumer market, including killing its new tablet device and buying British software company Autonomy Corp for as much as $11.7 billion.

Autonomy shares surged 76 percent.

China's vice president and heir apparent gave a ringing endorsement of the resilience of the debt-ridden American economy during a second day of talks with his U.S. counterpart Joe Biden.

Brent crude fell below $106 a barrel, extending the previous session's plunge, on renewed fears of weak demand following a slew of lackluster data from the world's top oil consumer, the United States.

European shares extended the previous session's steep decline on worries that major economies could be headed into recession. The FTSEurofirst 300 index of top European shares was last down 3.6 percent after falling 4.8 percent on Thursday, its biggest one-day decline since March 2009.

Gold hit a record high above $1,850 an ounce as investors reached for the safety of bullion amid a worsening economic outlook for the United States and concern about the health of Europe's banks.

The Nikkei stock average fell 2.5 percent for its third straight day of declines, hurt by U.S. recession fears and an earthquake that rattled northeast Japan in late trade, but the benchmark managed to hold above lows marked earlier this month.

(Reporting by Atul Prakash)