Stock index futures pointed to a lower open on Wall Street on Friday, with futures for the S&P 500 down 0.12 percent, Dow Jones futures down 0.39 percent and Nasdaq 100 futures down 0.42 percent at 0730 GMT.

The Shanghai Composite Index <.SSEC> gained 1.7 percent, while Japan's Nikkei average <.N225> slipped 1.4 percent on Friday, hurt by the yen's advance against the dollar, while Toyota Motor <7203.T> and other automakers dropped on news that the United States will end its car rebate program soon. <.T>.

European stocks <.FTEU3> were flat in morning trade, as rising banking shares offset a retreat in auto and mining shares.

Oil eased below $73 a barrel on Friday, reversing an earlier surge to a seven-week high, as optimism over the pace of demand recovery faded on the back of mixed economic data.

Gap Inc posted a slightly stronger than expected quarterly profit late on Thursday as more full-priced sales, inventory controls and cost cuts helped offset declining revenue at all its chains. The company behind the Gap, Old Navy and Banana Republic chains -- whose shares are up 39 percent since January -- has improved profit margins even as slumping sales pressured results.

Japan's IT services firm Fujitsu Ltd <6702.T>, which is chasing bigger rivals IBM and Hewlett-Packard , nearly quadrupled its annual net profit forecast after it unloaded shares in industrial robot maker Fanuc Ltd <6954.T> for 89 billion yen ($945 million), parrying speculation that it needs to raise capital.

Caterpillar Inc and Navistar International Corp are in talks with China's Anhui Jianghuai Automobile Co <600418.SS> to set up a truck venture in the country, a source familiar with the matter said on Friday.

Investors will scour U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke's speech before the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City Economic Symposium later in the day, for more insight on the outlook for the world's largest economy.

The market will also keep a close eye on U.S. existing home sales data, due at 1400 GMT. A Reuters survey of 61 economists predicted sales of previously owned homes climbed to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5 million in July, the briskest pace since 5.1 million units were sold in September and up from 4.89 million units in June.

U.S. shares gained ground for a third session in a row on Thursday with financial stocks pacing the gains after U.S. manufacturing data and a rebound in recently-hammered Chinese stocks reassured investors.

The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> gained 70.89 points, or 0.76 percent, to end at 9,350.05. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX> rose 10.91 points, or 1.09 percent, to finish at 1,007.37. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> climbed 19.98 points, or 1.01 percent, to close at 1,989.22.

(Reporting by Blaise Robinson; editing by Simon Jessop)