Futures Rise on Greece Plan; GDP Cuts Gains
U.S. stock index futures were higher ahead of the open Friday after a safety net for Greece's debt problems was hammered out between European Union leaders and the IMF and ECB president Jean-Claude Trichet said he found the plan "workable".
A report showing that gross domestic product grew at a 5.6 percent rate in the fourth quarter—not the 5.9 percent the government originally estimated—sent futures down a few points but the market still indicated a higher open.
European shares failed to keep their positive momentum after closing at near an 18-month high Thursday, with banks the main losers. Asian stocks finished largely in the green with currency fluctuations lending momentum.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average's drive towards 11,000 seems to have been temporarily stalled as a late-session selloff Thursday saw a triple-digit gain for the index largely evaporate; the blue-chip average finished up merely 5 points at 10,841.
The latest reading on fourth-quarter gross domestic product is due out at 8:30 am New York time. Economists think the U.S. economy grew at 5.8 percent annual rate during the quarter, compared to last month's fourth-quarter reading of a 5.7 percent growth rate. At 9:55 am, the University of Michigan's latest consumer sentiment index will be released. It's expected by analysts to come in at 73 compared to the prior reading of 72.5.
Three Federal Reserve speakers are on Friday's schedule, though only one will speak during market hours. Fed Governor Kevin Warsh will speak at New York's Harvard Club at 11:30 am. St. Louis Fed President James Bullard will participate in a panel discussion on monetary policy in Washington at 4 pm, while Fed Governor Daniel Tarullo gives a speech at that same event at 6 pm.
Oracle topped analyst estimates for both earnings and revenues as well as giving its best sales forecast in more than a year when it released its earnings results Thursday. The shares, however, fell after-hours after they hit a 9-year high during regular trading.
In company news, Genzyme shares gained 1.4 percent in premarket trading after Leerink Swan raised the company to "outperform" from "market perform."
Radio Shack could be looking for a buyer, according to the New York Post, which said Best Buy would be a possible suitor. Radio Shack shares jumped 7.5 percent premarket.
Accenture shares lost more than 1 percent after reporting Thursday that earnings fell 2.8 percent, worse than market expectations.
A handful of retailers were higher on upgrades from JPMorgan. Coach and Urban Outfitters both gained more than 2 percent.
The White House is set to announce a new housing bailout plan today at 10 am. Under the plan, lenders will be required to lower the mortgage payments of some unemployed workers, and they'll be given incentives to cut principal for some homeowners who owe more than their home is worth.
- Written by Peter Schacknow, Senior Producer, CNBC Breaking News Desk.