Stock Futures Barely Budge as Investors Watch G-20 Meeting

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Stock futures were little changed Friday as investors processed a better-than-expected Empire State manufacturing survey while awaiting more U.S. economic data and headlines from a weekend meeting of the G-20.

Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average were falling 8 points, or 3.39 points below fair value, at 13,942. Futures for the S&P 500 were down 0.5 point, or 0.53 point below fair value, at 1,518. Futures for the Nasdaq were up 1.75 points, or 0.12 point above fair value, at 2,769.

"I think people will just hold their positions" ahead of the long weekend, Keith Bliss, senior vice president of Cuttone, told TheStreet late Thursday. "We're not going to see much out of the options expirations or any kind of data we get Friday. This market to me is exhausted. We've run very far, very quickly inside the S&P."

U.S. markets are closed Monday for Presidents Day.

Bliss said late Thursday, as the S&P 500 tracked a five-year high, that he was "quite amazed" it was staying up there.

"There's a lot of internal indicators inside the market that tell me the price action is broken and we should be pulling back but there's so much money plowing into the equity markets that people are chasing return and that's why we're up here," he said.

Major U.S. stock averages ended little changed Thursday amid a number of high-profile corporate deals and better-than-expected jobs data.

"U.S. data today is seen with a softer tone," said Paul Donovan, global economist at UBS. "Industrial production will be tempered by mining output, and the University of Michigan consumer sentiment has seemed to be more sensitive than other measures to the impact of higher taxes at the start of the year."

The New York Empire State manufacturing survey showed a reading of 10 for February, above expectations for a flat read and up from negative 7.8 in the prior month.

At 9:15 a.m., the Federal Reserve is expected by economists to report that industrial production rose 0.2% in January after increasing 0.3% in December. Capacity utilization is expected to have increased to 78.9% from 78.8%.

The University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index is forecast to show a read of 73.5 versus a previous 73.8.

Finance ministers of the G-20 nations were meeting in Moscow Friday amid widespread concerns of rising risks of currency wars, with the Japanese yen's depreciation one of the areas of focus amid Japan's aggressive monetary policy.

In the U.S., sequestration talks in Washington continued Thursday, with Senate Democrats proposing a $110 billion combination of spending cuts and tax increases to avoid automatic spending cuts that kick in at the beginning of March. However, the Republicans objected to a rise in tax rates or other measures to generate more tax revenue.

Gold for April delivery was falling $8.60 at $1,626.90 an ounce at the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange, while March crude oil futures were down 57 cents at $96.74 a barrel.

The benchmark 10-year Treasury rising by 3/32, diluting the yield to 1.991%. The dollar was up 0.03%, according to the U.S. dollar index.

In corporate news, Campbell Soup ( CPB) posted quarterly earnings of 70 cents a share on revenue of $2.33 billion, topping the average analyst estimate of 66 cents a share on revenue of $2.32 billion, with the help of solid results from its newly acquired Bolthouse Farms business.

Kraft ( KRFT) shares were falling nearly 1% as the company predicted that its fourth quarter 2012 net revenue will be 10.7% lower than the prior year.

J.M. Smucker ( SJM) shares were trading sideways after the maker of jellies and jams posted quarterly earnings of $1.47 a share on revenue of $1.56 billion, versus the average analyst estimate of earnings $1.39 a share on revenue of $1.56 billion.

Greenlight Capital's David Einhorn, putting his money where his mouth is, added to his Apple ( AAPL) holdings as of the end of 2012. Apple shares were up 0.37%.

Einhorn, who is suing the iPhone maker to try to prevent the company from changing its charter, now owns 1.3 million shares, according to his latest 13F filing, up from the third quarter, when he owned 1.09 million shares.

George Soros also added to his stake in Apple during the fourth quarter.

According to his latest 13F, Soros owned 183,976 shares of Apple, up from the 84,858 shares he owned in the third quarter.

Soros trimmed his position in other technology names, including Facebook ( FB) and ( AMZN). Facebook shares were up 0.25% and Amazon shares were down 0.27%.

Berkshire Hathaway ( BRK.A) initiated a stake in Internet-infrastructure specialist Verisign ( VRSN), according to the latest 13F regulatory filings.

Warren Buffett's holding company now owns 3,685,700 shares.

AIG ( AIG) saw George Soros and Och-Ziff Capital Management Group reduce their stakes in the insurer. Baupost Group, meanwhile, built a stake in AIG. Shares were down 0.74%.

Herbalife ( HLF ) shares were soaring by 19% as Carl Icahn revealed a 13% holding in the company.

-- Written by Andrea Tse in New York.

>To contact the writer of this article, click here: Andrea Tse.

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