U.S. stock index futures signaled a slightly higher open on Wall Street on Friday, mirroring early gains in Europe after better-than-expected earnings from Microsoft (MSFT) and strong business sentiment numbers from Germany.
Friday will be a quieter day for earnings, with Dow component Procter & Gamble (PG) reporting fourth quarter results before the start of U.S. trade. Analysts polled by Reuters forecast the consumer goods giant will post earnings per share of $1.16 on revenue of $21.9 billion, versus earnings of $0.57 on revenue of $22.1 billion a year before.
Other companies reporting before the open on Friday include Halliburton (HAL), Kimberly-Clark (KMB) and Honeywell (HON).
In macroeconomics news, the Commerce Department will release new home sales for December at 10:00 a.m. New York time and analysts will be watching to see if the recent recovery in the housing sector is sustained. Economists in a Reuters survey forecast a total of 385,000 sales, up from 377,000 in November.
"With homebuilders' sales expectations strong, we think that new home sales rose further last month," Paul Diggle, an economist at independent research firm Capital Economics said in a note on Friday.
The S&P 500 closed higher for the seventh-consecutive session Thursday after crossing above the 1,500 level for the first time since December 2007, but Apple shares ended near session lows, putting a damper on the tech-heavy Nasdaq.
"Although the accommodative stance of the Fed's monetary policy is a powerful force which we think will exert further upward pressure on equity prices, we forecast the index to creep up only a little further - to 1,550 - by mid-year. What's more, we think it will be back down to its current level by the end of 2013," economists John Higgins and Paul Dales of Capital Economics said.
- By CNBC's Katy Barnato