U.S. stock-index futures signaled a steep drop at the start of trading on Wall Street Friday, as investors considered earnings from companies including Chevron, Amazon.com and Google.
Futures offered little reaction after data had personal income up 0.1 percent in December, matching estimates, and spending rising 0.4 percent versus a 0.5 percent estimate.
Ahead of Friday's open, Wal-Mart Stores added to Wall Street's dreary view, with the discount retailer slicing fourth-quarter guidance and blaming a slew of negative factors, including the federal government's cut in food stamps and the cold weather. Chevron reported earnings of $2.57 a share on revenue of $56.16 billion, versus expectations of earnings per share of $2.57 on $64.93 billion in revenue. Shares of the oil producer were off 0.9 percent in early trading. MasterCard reported earnings excluding items of 57 cents a share on revenue of $2.1 billion, versus expectations of 60 cents a share on $2.14 billion in sales.
Some analysts suggested the negative outlook for the market open was due in part to continued anxiety about emerging markets.
"The market as a whole has been quick to label any kind of crisis in the emerging world as back to the 1987 Asia currency crisis," said James Paulsen of Wells Capital Management on CNBC's "Squawk Box." "We're quick to sell off....We're quick to suggest 'Oh we're going to have a correction for sure'." (More of his comments here)
Indeed, global stocks fell ahead of the U.S. market open after a drop in euro zone inflation showed the recovery is still weak there and concern persisted over the outlook for emerging economies. (More here)
In terms of economic data Friday, there will be the Chicago PMI (purchasing managers' index) at 9:45 a.m. ET, which will be eyed ahead of next week's ISM (Institute for Supply Management) report. In addition, there will be consumer sentiment at 9:55 a.m.
"We look for a rebound in the Chicago PMI to 62.0 in January, after a reading of 60.8 in December. This would be in line with the January increases in the Empire State and Philadelphia Fed indices," said Barclays analysts Kieran Davies and Sebastian Vargas in a morning research note. (Related: Stocks down 4% in January, if history repeats...)
On Thursday, the closed 1 percent higher, while the Nasdaq shot up nearly 2 percent, after data showed the U.S. economy expanded 3.2 percent inthe fourth quarter, with consumer spending rising 3.3 percent.
Amazon reported disappointing quarterly results after markets closed on Thursday. Google reported earnings that at first blush also looked disappointing. It's core numbers, however, proved to be solid, sending the stock up after hours.
Amazon, the world's largest interest retailer, posted earnings of 51 cents per share on sales of $25.6 billion, versus expectations for 66 cents a share on sales of $26.1 billion. It also warned it might double the cost of Amazon Prime subscription to $40, due to higher fuel and other shipping costs.
(Read more: Amazon may hike Prime cost, earnings disappoint)
Google posted adjusted earnings of $12.01 per share, just missing expectations of $12.20. However, core revenue in its Internet business rose 22 percent on the year.
—By CNBC's Katy Barnato