Stocks aimed for a higher open Friday after Thursday's pullback.
S&P futures were 2.6 points above fair value and Nasdaq futures were pointing to a 4-point rise at the open. Overseas, stocks were modestly higher across the board, with Britain's FTSE up 20 to 5856, Germany's Dax up 8 to 5866, Japan's Nikkei up 6 to 16,102 and Hong Kong's Hang Seng up 44 to 15,856.
Crude oil rose for the first time in three days as violence loomed once again in big producer Nigeria. Crude for April delivery rose $1.10 on Nymex to $61.64. The dollar rose against the euro and fell against the yen.
Friday morning investors will look at January's durable goods orders. The report is expected to show a 0.3% drop last month after a 1.8% gain in December. That's mostly due a big drop in aircraft orders at
, according to Lehman Brothers. But ex-aircraft and non-defense capital goods orders, a good measure of business investment, durable goods are expected to show a solid 1% increase, marking the third straight month of gains.
Later in the day, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and Vice Chairman Roger Ferguson are due to speak. Their comments will be closely eyed with the Fed's tightening regime the most-discussed issue in the market. According to Miller Tabak, the market is now pricing in 100% odds that the Fed will lift rates at least two more times over the next three rate-setting meetings, taking its key rate to 5% by mid-June. And odds that the rate will rise to 5.25% in August were priced in for the first time Thursday. The market sees a 10% chance of such a rate.
On the political front, there will surely be more talk of U.S. port security after
Dubai World Ports
said it would segregate the U.S. operations it's acquiring in its buy of Britian's
in a bid to quell national security concerns. Some in Congress have clashed with the White House on whether an Arab company should oversee vital domestic infrastructure in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
There were some mixed earnings reports late Thursday.
dropped 8% in late action after slashing its fourth-quarter earnings forecast, citing a weak start to tax season, and
dropped 5% after saying February's traffic was down double digits from the year-ago level. Meanwhile, mall developer
rose after putting itself on the block and big box retailer
posted a strong fourth quarter.
On Thursday, stocks closed lower as inflation questions lingered and banks, semiconductors, housing stocks and drugmakers drifted. The Dow Jones Industrial Average shed 67.95 points, or 0.61%, to 11,069.22. The S&P 500 lost 4.88 points, or 0.38%, to 1287.79, and the Nasdaq Composite fell 3.85 points, or 0.17%, to 2279.32.
To view Frank Curzio's video take on today's premarket action, click here