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Futures Turn Flat after GDP News

U.S. stock index futures pared losses, with Nasdaq futures pointing higher, after a first reading of third-quarter economic growth came in as expected.

The U.S. Gross Domestic Product rose at a 2 percent ratein the third quarter, the Commerce Department reported on Friday. Economists surveyed by Reuters had forecasted the economy grew at an annual rate of 2 percent, up from the 1.7 percent growth rate recorded in the second quarter.

The rate of growth is not enough yet to reduce high employment rates or change perceptions of more monetary easing from the Federal Reserve next week.

The third-quarter employment cost index rose 0.4 percent, slightly less that the consensus forecats of 0.5 percent.

The Chicago Purchasing Managers' Index for October will be released at 9:45 a.m. with economists expecting a reading of 58 for Midwest manufacturing activity, according to Briefing.com. That compares to the previous month's reading of 60.4.

And the final reading of the October Michigan sentiment index will be out at 9:55 a.m., with the consensus calling for a reading of 68.

In earnings news, Merck fell slightly in pre-market trading after beating profit expectations, but disappointing investors with revenue results. The drug maker had taken a nearly $1 billion charge related to a government investigation of its Vioxx drug.

Chevron shares fell in pre-market trading after the oil company reported profits that disappointed investors, although the company's revenues were stronger than expected.

Shares of Cigna rose slightly after beating profit expectations, and raisings its full-year outlook.

Meanwhlie, Microsoft's shares were up nearly 4 percent in pre-market trading after reporting surprisingly strong profits and sales in its core Windows and Office software, as well as sales of the video game Halo.

In other news, Halliburton shares could see further declines at the open after a White House panel found the company used flawed cement in the Gulf of Mexico oil well.

European shares were lower across the board with miners leading the declines. Asian markets closed mostly in the red after a volatile session.