Futures Add to Gains on GDP Growth

Stocks were pointing decidedly higher Friday after the government said the economy grew at an even faster pace than expected.

Gross domestic product growth came in at 5.7 percent for the fourth quarter of 2009, exceeding already-optimistic estimates of 4.6 percent. While much of the growth was attributed it to inventory rebuilds, the number impressed investors enough to have futures pointing to an increase of about 0.5 percent at the open.

But barring an outsized rally Friday, Wall Street's major averages will conclude their third-consecutive losing month of January, though the losses will pale in comparison to 2009 when both the Dow and the S&P 500 lost almost 9 percent for the month.

Stock index futures were higher earlier on upbeat earnings from two tech heavyweights.

Both Microsoft and Amazon.com exceeded expectations with their latest reports — Microsoft on the strength of the Windows 7 introduction and Amazon doing so thanks in large part to a dominant holiday shopping season.

Microsoft gained 1.4 percent while Amazon rose nearly 3 percent in premarket trading.

There's more economic news after the bell: At 9:45 am the Chicago Purchasing Managers Index arrives. It is forecast to come in at 57.2 for January compared to December's 58.7 reading. At 9:55 am, the University of Michigan's consumer sentiment index is likely to have edged higher to 73.0 for this month compared to December's final reading of 72.5.

Elsewhere, Nokia shares were nearly 1 percent higher after Goldman Sachs raised the company's price target after Thursday's earning surprise. Goldman kept Nokia at a "neutral" rating.

In early earnings news, former Dow component Honeywell reported profit of 81 cents a share, a penny ahead of expectations, but its shares edged lower. Mattel beat analyst estimates on strong sales from its Fashionista Barbie and Hot Wheels lines.

The pace of earnings reports undergoes its usual Friday slowdown, but there also will be reports from Avery Dennison, Chevron, Fortune Brands, and Newell Rubbermaid .


MGM Mirage could be a stock to watch today, as the Wall Street Journal reports that the company is seeking to divest its 50 percent stake in the Atlantic City Borgata casino resort.

- Written by Peter Schacknow, Senior Producer, CNBC Breaking News Desk.