U.S. stock market index futures rose after the government reported that nonfarm payrolls rose 157,000 for the first month of 2013, with the unemployment rate edging up, a sign that labor markets are continuing to mend.
Dow Jones Futures jumped by 106 points, with the S&P Futures spiking by 10 points. Meanwhile, the Nasdaq Futures index also surged by more than 20 points.
The news, while encouraging, was unlikely to alter the Federal Reserve's monetary policy or instill confidence that the recovery is gaining steam.
Economists polled by Reuters forecast non-farm payrolls rose by 155,000 in January, a repeat of December's gain. The unemployment rate is seen remaining at 7.8 percent.
"Most of the monthly indicators have improved, with initial jobless claims falling and the employment indices of the ISM (Institute for Supply Management) activity surveys rising," Paul Dales, an economist at independent research firm Capital Economics, said in a note on Thursday afternoon.
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Meanwhile, the ISM's manufacturing index is due out at 10 a.m. New York time on Friday. Economists polled by Reuters predict activity slowed to 50.5 in January from 50.7 in December. A reading above 50 indicates expansion for the sector.
"Conditions appear to be improving in the manufacturing sector, albeit at a slow pace and from a depressed level," Amna Asaf, economist at Capital Economics Economist, said in a note.
U.S. construction spending data for December will also be released at 10 a.m. on Friday. Economists polled by Reuters forecast spending rose by 0.7 percent, versus a 0.3 percent fall in November.
The University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment survey for January is due out at 9.55 a.m. Analysts polled by Briefing.com expect the index to fall to 70.5 from 71.3.
In earnings news, the two largest oil companies will post fourth-quarter results on Friday before the U.S. market opens.
Analysts polled by Reuters forecast that Dow component Chevron will post fourth-quarter earnings of $3.12 on revenue of $68.6 billion, versus earnings of $2.58 on revenue of $60 billion a year previously.
Meanwhile, analysts polled by Reuters forecast Exxon will post earnings of $1.95 on revenue of $115 billion, down on earnings of $1.97 on revenue of $122 a year previously.
Pharmaceutical giant Merck will also post earnings on Friday. Analysts surveyed by Reuters forecast the Dow component will report earnings of 46 cents on revenue of $11.5 billion, down on earnings of 49 cents and revenue of $12.3 billion a year before.
Other major companies reporting before the start of trade on Friday include Mattel and BT.
Earlier on Friday, Spanish banks traded lower after BBVA, Caixabank and Banco Popular Espanol all reported full-year earnings showing a dip in profits. On Thursday, the Spanish banking regulator announced an end to Spain's short-selling ban, introduced in July last year.
In addition, French bank Credit Agricole warned its fourth-quarter results would be hit by charges amounting to 3.8 billion euros ($5.16 billion). However, BT posted quarterly earnings that beat expectations.
Asian shares were mixed on Friday as a tepid Chinese manufacturing report dented sentiment. China's official purchasing managers' index (PMI) eased to 50.4 in January, missing market expectations for a rise.
All three major U.S. indexes posted strong gains in January, with the Dow up six percent on the month, the up five percent and the Nasdaq up four percent. Blue chips posted their best monthly gain since October 2011, and the S&P 500 had its best January performance since 1997.
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-By CNBC's Katy Barnato