US stock futures rally on Fed view, earnings

U.S. stock-index futures surged on Friday after a slew of solid earnings reports and on thinking the Federal Reserve might delay the tapering of its stimulus due to a softening global economy.

Futures maintained strong gains after data had housing starts rising 6.3 percent in September after climbing 12.8 percent in August.

Fed Chair Janet Yellen on Friday voiced concern about income inequality in the United States, saying the wealthiest five percent hold two-thirds of all assets.

General Electric shares advanced after the company reported third-quarter earnings that beat expectations. Morgan Stanley rose after tallying an 87 percent increase in third-quarter earnings.

After another choppy trading session on Thursday, St. Louis Fed President James Bullard was credited with a bounce-back in U.S. markets, which ended mostly flat, when he said the U.S. Federal Reserve should consider continuing to buy bonds beyond the scheduled end of quantitative easing later this month, due to market turmoil.

The U.S. Federal Reserve has pared back its bond-buying program from $85 billion a month to $15 billion a month, though the central bank it is expected to announce the final tapering of the program when it meets later this month.

On Friday, investors will be looking to see whether Fed chair Janet Yellen will make any comment on the outlook for the U.S. economy when she speaks on economic opportunity at the Boston Fed's 58th Economic Conference.

There was mixed trade in Europe and Asia overnight as investors digested the latest U.S. data, which come after a week of more pessimistic reports that had fueled concerns over a global slowdown.