Stock futures pointed to a lower opening Friday as earnings disappointments from some key companies threatened to end an otherwise strong weak on a negative note.
An economic report showing an unexpected rise in new housing starts and building permits helped stoke some enthusiasm, but the Dow and Standard & Poor's 500 both remained poised for slightly negative starts to the trading day. The Nasdaq continued to outperform, and indicated a nearly flat open.
GE reported a second-quarter profit of 26 cents a share, topping consensus estimates of 23 cents a share. Revenue of $39 billion was slightly below the $42 billion analysts predicted. (GE is the parent company of CNBC.)
GE shares fell nearly 4 percent as the market focused more on the company's 17 percent drop in revenue, nearly double the 10 percent that Wall Street had expected.
At the same time, Bank of America beat expectations with earnings of 33 cents per share against estimates of 29 cents, but traders looked at warnings of tough sledding for the rest of of the year. BofA shares initially slumped about 4 percent but began to recover as investors pored through the numbers and were down less than 1 percent as the opening bell neared.
Citigroup helped stem the negative tide a bit, reporting a $4.3 billion profit helped significantly from a joint deal with Morgan Stanley regarding Citi's Smith Barney Unit. Citi shares popped 3.6 percent premarket.
Wall Street will attempt to make it a perfect week for the bulls — with the Dow, the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq rising in all four trading days so far this week.
The Nasdaq is riding a 7-session winning streak, gaining about 8% over that time. The Nasdaq last had a 7-session winning streak in September of 2006.
Earnings will likely determine whether those streaks will continue during the Friday session.
IBM rose 1.5 percent before hours after beating forecasts and raising its outlook Thursday, but Google shares fell 3 percent after its sales outlook disappointed investors.
On a positive note, toymaker Mattel gained more than 3 percent premarket after the company said that while sales of Barbie and other products fell in the second quarter, profit rose 82 percent.
On the economic calendar, the government will have June numbers for housing starts and building permits, with economists looking for new home construction at an annual rate of 530,000 units during the month.
That would be slightly below the May rate of 532,000 units, which had been an increase of more than 17% over April levels.
Investors will also be watching CIT Group's ongoing attempt to stay in business. The commercial lender is now said to be working on a $5 billion debt-for-equity exchange to avert a potential bankruptcy filing, following the failure of talks with the government about possible help.
— Peter Schacknow, CNBC Senior Producer, contributed to this report