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Wall Street eyes more data as it digests Fed, GDP

U.S. stock index futures trimmed losses to indicate a flat to slightly higher open on Friday on the last trading day in July, as investors continued to digest the Fed statement amid more data releases.

The employment cost index rose 0.2 percent in the second quarter, missing expectations for a 0.6 percent increase.

"What it tells us is September may not be a lock. If anything that may be a little reason why w're seeing a bit of rotation in futures here," said Art Hogan, chief market strategist at Wunderlich Securities.

The 2-year yield plunged after the report, dropping to 0.68 percent from as high as 0.75 percent earlier in the morning. The 10-year yield edged lower, trading near 2.21 percent.

The U.S. dollar fell about 1 percent, with the euro holding above $1.10 and the yen just below 124 yen against the greenback.

Other data scheduled for release include the July Chicago PMI and the final University of Michigan consumer sentiment survey, at 9:45 a.m. ET and 10:00 a.m. respectively.

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The central bank kept the door open for a September rate hike in its post-meeting statement this week. However, it didn't provide any clarity as to whether it expects to move its Fed funds target rate from zero in September, as many economists expect, or whether a December rise is more likely, as the futures markets now forecast.

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.
Lucas Jackson | Reuters
Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.

U.S. economic growth data was also released this week. Gross domestic product expanded at a 2.3 percent annual rate, the Commerce Department said on Thursday. First-quarter GDP, previously reported to have shrunk at a 0.2 percent pace, was revised up to show it rising at a 0.6 percent rate.

Chinese stocks posted their worst monthly loss in nearly six years. The Shanghai Composite index finished in negative territory for the second straight session, down 1.1 percent for the day and 13.4 percent for the month, as investors remain nervous amid commodity weakness. However, trading was relatively calm compared to the volatility in the previous sessions.

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The Chinese securities regulator is investigating the impact of automated trading on the market and had restricted 24 stock trading accounts for suspected irregularities, according to Reuters.

Meanwhile in Europe, equities traded mixed following a number of large groups reported earnings, as data from the U.S., ongoing volatility in Chinese equities and slipping commodity prices remained in focus.

In the commodity space, U.S. crude futures slipped for asecond session to trade below $48 a barrel, as mixed economic data from the U.S. overnight weighed on sentiment, although a weaker dollar put a floor under prices.

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Spot gold hovered near five-and-a-half-year lows early on Friday and is on course for a sixth straight weekly fall.