Stock-index futures jumped after Warren Buffett weighed in on everything from the dollar to Fannie mae and Freddie Mac.
Buffett has no bets against the dollar and thinks stocks are more attractive now than a year ago, the billionaire investor said in an interview with CNBC. He also said Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac "are too big to fail," but shareholders could "lose a lot of money." (Read more from the interview in the Buffett blog.)
A pullback in oil prices also helped to boost sentiment. Light, sweet crude fell below $120 a barrel, after finishing above $121 on Thursday.
Lehman Brothers shares jumped premarket after Korea Development Bank said Lehman was a possible acquisition target.
Investors will be keeping an eye on Jackson Hole, Wyo., where the Federal Reserve is holding its annual meeting. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke is scheduled to speak at 10 am New York time, and investors will be looking for any clues about the Fed's plans to battle the credit crunch and if Fannie Mae or Freddie Macwill need public funding.
But those hoping for bold statements will likely be disappointed.
"I think he will bend over backward not to give markets much to go on. Just ask yourself what has happened since the last Federal Open Market Committee meeting," Bob Eisenbeis, former head of research at the Atlanta Fed, told Reuters.
Meanwhile, the U.S. economy could be in danger from another property-related downturn. Commercial real-estate loans are now looking vulnerable, the New York Times reported.
There are no earnings reports scheduled ahead of trading, but Gapreported a profit that topped expectations after the bell Thursday, with margins improving.
Stocks in Europe were higher, with London leading the way after the government's revised figures said the UK economy remained flat in the second quarter. That opened the door to the possibility of an interest-rate cut. Trading on Asian markets was mixed.