US stocks looked set to extend a three-session winning streak at the open Friday as stock index futures gained slightly. Low volumes typical of summer trading could bring volatile trading.
Futures had been lower but quickly turned positive as European stocks build on early gains on the back of better-than-expected service sector data. Asian stocks closed mostly lower, but the Shanghai Composite Index managed to build on Thursday’s gains with a 1.7 percent rise.
Investors will get a fresh read on the state of the US housing sector at 10 am New York time when July’s existing home sales data is released. Sales are expected to have risen 2.2 percent to about 5 million units.
Better-than-expected results could add to the growing hopes that the US real estate sector has successfully formed a base after months of heavy declines.
Also at 10 am, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke will speak to the annual Kansas City Fed symposium in Jackson Hole, Wyo. Investors will be looking for clues on Bernanke’s exit strategy and any new information could move the thin market.
In other news, Morgan Stanley is planning a hiring spree, according to a Reuters report, for up to 400 traders and salespeople as the investment bank looks to pull out of its string of quarterly losses. Morgan shares gained more than 1 percent in premarket trading.
In earnings, retailer Ann Taylor reported earnings of 6 cents a share that were better than Wall Street expectations. Shares edged higher premarket.