US stocks seen lower ahead of wholesale trade data

U.S. stock index futures pointed lower on Friday, despite a blitz of largely positive economic data out of China.

China's benchmark Shanghai Composite outperformed other Asian bourses on Friday, to end above the 2,050 mark, up 1 percent on the week. Sentiment was lifted by better-than-expected industrial output numbers for July, plus a healthy increase in fixed asset investment in the first seven months of the year.

On a more somber note, Chinese consumer prices were unchanged in July on the previous month, and producer prices fell an annualized 2.3 percent.

"More spending is called for, while further acceleration in credit growth is discouraged. This approach requires significant improvement in capital allocation efficiency to work. There is no quick magic, and so patience and tolerance is still required," analysts at SG Global Economics wrote in a research note.

Meanwhile, a marginally weaker yen helped Japan's benchmark Nikkei index rebound from the previous day's one-month low. Dollar-yen traded at the 96.60 handle, after hitting a new seven-week low overnight.

In Europe, Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim's America Movil (AMX) said on Friday it planned to purchase Dutch telecom group KPN at 2.4 euros per share. The news sent KPN stock soaring 19 percent in European trading.

"Uncertainties include regulatory views on the E-Plus deal, AMX's intentions on E-Plus and KPN's corporate defenses, as control of KPN by closely-held AMX might be politically contentious," said Ulrich Rathe, equity analyst at Jefferies.

"While the uncertainties are substantial, time is on shareholders' side for now," he added.

In other stock news, NRG Energy will report second quarter earnings before the start of the U.S. trade. However, the session will be a quiet one for major earnings releases, with numbers from Berkshire Hathaway after the end of trade likely to garner more interest.

J.C.Penney stocks will be worth a watch on Friday, following the eruption of a boardroom fight over the retailer's future leadership. Hedge fund manager Bill Ackman demanded a faster search for a new chief executive, but the board claimed he was being "disruptive and counterproductive".

Otherwise, U.S. markets will focus on wholesale trade and inventory numbers due at 10 a.m. ET. Analysts polled by Reuters forecast that inventories rose by 0.3 percent in June and wholesale sales gained by 0.7 percent.

By CNBC's Katy Barnato