) -- U.S. stock futures signaled a higher open for Wall Street Friday ahead of new-home sales data.

Asian stocks fell for a second day in a row on weakness in Chinese manufacturing. Japan's Nikkei 225 index declined 1.1% to close at 10,011.47; Hong Kong's Hang Seng also lost 1.1%.

European stocks were trading higher.

The economic calendar in the U.S. Friday features new-home sales for February at 10 a.m. EDT. The consensus estimate, according to, is for sales to come in at 323,000.

Bank of America

(BAC) - Get Report

has begun a pilot program that will offer some of its mortgage customers facing foreclosure a chance to stay in their homes by becoming renters instead of owners.

Launched this week, the pilot program -- "Mortgage to Lease" -- will be offered to less than 1,000 Bank of America customers in test markets in Arizona, Nevada and New York.

"If this evolves from a pilot into a more broadly based program, we also see potential benefits from helping to stabilize housing prices in the surrounding community," said Bank of America executive Ron Sturzenegger.


acquired 750 patents from


(IBM) - Get Report

as it defends itself against litigation, including a lawsuit by




A Facebook spokesman on Thursday confirmed the purchase but didn't provide details to

The Associated Press



first reported Facebook acquired patents covering technologies dealing with software and networking.

Yahoo! sued Facebook last week, saying the social networking giant had infringed on 10 of its patents covering advertising, privacy controls and social networking.

Facebook said it would defend itself.


(NKE) - Get Report

on Thursday

posted fiscal third-quarter profit

ahead of consensus estimates.

The Beaverton, Ore.-based sneaker maker posted a profit of $560 million, or $1.20 a share, on revenue of $5.85 billion for the quarter ended Feb. 29, beating the average estimate of analysts for earnings of $1.17 a share on revenue of $5.82 billion.

Gross margin came in at 43.8% for the quarter, down from 45.8% a year earlier. Selling, general and administrative expenses grew slower than revenue, totaling $1.8 billion for the period, or 30.8% of revenue. In the same period a year earlier, Nike said SG&A expenses totaled $1.64 billion, or 32.2% of revenue.

Earnings reports are expected Friday from homebuilder

KB Home

(KBH) - Get Report


Darden Restaurants

(DRI) - Get Report

, the owner of Red Lobster and Olive Garden.

-- Written by Joseph Woelfel

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Joseph Woelfel

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