US Markets

Futures struggle for gains after initial spike on jobs

U.S. stock index futures indicated a flat open on Friday as investors digested the jobs report for indications on economic growth and the path of Federal Reserve tightening.

Futures initially extended gains, before turning slightly lower. Traders attributed much of the reversal to profit-taking after the recent rally. The major U.S. averages were on pace for weekly gains of 1.8 percent or more as of Thursday's close.

The nonfarm payrolls report showed creation 242,000 jobs in February, topping expectations. The unemployment rate unchanged at 4.9 percent, while labor force participation was 62.9 percent.

A 0.1 percent monthly drop in average hourly earnings lowered the year-on-year gain in earnings to 2.2 percent, Reuters said.

S&P 500 e-minis briefly topped 2,000 in early morning trade for the first time since Jan. 6, Reuters reported.

Dow futures briefly traded more than 70 points higher soon after the data release. Treasury yields rose, with the 2-year near 0.89 percent.

In other economic news, the U.S. trade deficit widened more than expected in January to $45.7 billion as a strong dollar and weak global demand helped to push exports to a more than 5-1/2-year low, suggesting trade will continue to weigh on economic growth in the first quarter.

U.S. stocks closed higher Thursday, building on the gains of the week so far, as oil prices stabilized. On Friday morning, crude futures rose on the back of official U.S. data which showed oil production fell to its lowest level since November 2014, according to Reuters.

Economists expected 190,000 nonfarm payrolls in February's employment report, and the unemployment rate to stay unchanged at 4.9 percent, according to Thomson Reuters.

Elsewhere on Friday, there are just a few earnings from Staples and WPP Group. Investors will also keep a check on the race for the White House. Republicans' current front-runner Donald Trump shared a debate stage in Detroit with rivals Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz and John Kasich on Thursday evening.

This came after former GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney battled Trump on Thursday — both delivering a blistering series of insults against each other's temperaments, electability and business acumen.

—CNBC's Patti Domm and Everett Rosenfeld contributed to this article.