Financials Flat as Citi Gains, Palm Drops
Futures searched for direction before the market open Friday after a strong two-week run, with financial stocks still struggling in global markets and the administration and lawmakers grappling with the fallout over bonuses paid out at American International Group .
Stocks had been poised for a loss after momentum from the Fed's decision to buy up billions in debt wore off and sent markets lower Thursday.
But futures moved off their lows, and Wall Street could close with its first string of consecutive positive weeks in nearly a year.
Shares of handset makers were under pressure early after Palm said its upcoming Pre phone "more polishing" and Sony Ericsson warned that it would sell barely half the handsets it did in the last quarter. Palm shares fell 6 percent in premarket trading.
Citigroup shares, though, gained 5.4 percent as the company announced two senior management changes in its continuing effort to restructure. Gary Crittenden, previously chief financial officer, has been named to the newly created role of chairman of Citi Holdings, and Edward “Ned” Kelly, previously the head of global banking, will become chief financial officer.
European stocks were broadly down, with Paris the worst performer. Asian markets finished mixed. Both Tokyo and Hong Kong closed in the red, while Singapore ended higher.
In the oil market, crude prices edged lower following Thursday's sharp gains that too futures above $50 per barrel.
Looking to the global economy, leading up to the Group of 20 meeting in Brussels, the European Union will propose doubling the International Monetary Fund's arsenal for fighting economic slowdown to $500 billion, according to a draft of the proposal.
But the EU itself is trying to keep a lid on stimulus spending, while the US added $5 billion in funds to help auto parts makers.
Also in Washington, a House panel will consider legislation to prevent bonus payouts to any companies receiving money under the TARP program.
There are no economic indicators scheduled before the bell.