NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- U.S. stock index futures were taking a breather Friday after the S&P 500 hit fresh highs in the prior session and as the markets awaited a speech from Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen.
Dow Jones Industrial Average futures were down 25 points, or 21.54 points below fair value, to 16,991. S&P 500 futures were down 4 points, or 3.92 points below fair value, to 1,985.5. Nasdaq futures were down 7 points, or 5.48 below fair value, to 4,040.5.
While the market has hit all-time highs more than 20 times this year, it still continues to grind higher, countering concerns that there is no place to go but down.
"Market valuations remain near historical averages. Currently the forward P/E for the S&P 500 is 15.3, nowhere near the euphoric levels of the tech bubble in 2000," said Douglas Cote, chief market strategist at Voya Investment Management.
Yellen is set to begin speaking at the global central bankers' gathering in Jackson Hole, Wyo., at 10 a.m. EDT.
While Ben Bernanke had used Jackson Hole as a place to announce policy initiatives or changes to monetary policy, Sterne Agee's chief economist Lindsey Piegza expects Yellen will use the opportunity and really every public forum opportunity to continue to justify the Fed's continued accommodative stance. Jackson Hole will give Yellen just another occasion to reinforce why the Fed cannot raise rates in the face of a still very stagnant and fragile labor market. Ahead of the speech, the July 29-30 Fed minutes presented what was perceived by many to be a more hawkish-than-expected discussion. But a closer inspection of the text indicated that in many respects the "doves" are still very much in control of the dialog and Yellen still very much has the majority of the voting members on her side.
European markets were seeing a slow start on Friday as the world waits for Yellen's remarks. In Japan, the Nikkei 225 was off 0.3% at 15,539.19, bucking the Asian trend. Hong Kong's Hang Seng was up 0.47% at 25,112.23, while the Shangai Composite was up 0.46% at 2,240.81.
Companies garnering attention Friday include Apple (AAPL) . Suppliers to Apple have been scrambling to get enough screens ready for the new iPhone 6 smartphone as the need to redesign a key component disrupted panel production ahead of next month's expected launch, supply chain sources told Reuters. The stock was down 0.43% to $100.15 in premarket trading.
Federal prosecutors are scrutinizing whether employees inside and outside the legal department at General Motors (GM) concealed evidence from regulators about a faulty ignition switch, potentially delaying a recall of vehicles with the fatal problem, The Wall Street Journal reported. Shares were flat at $34.62.
Microsoft (MSFT) plans to unveil its successor to Windows next month at a special press event, The Verge reported.
Aeropostale (ARO) was plunging 10.23% to $3.51 after reporting on Thursday a second-quarter loss of $63.8 million, or 81 cents a share, and after forecastng a wider-than-expected third-quarter loss.
--By Andrea Tse in New York