Stock futures pared losses following news that the economy lost 20,000 jobs in January while the actual unemployment rate fell to 9.7 percent.
Wall Street was looking at a flat open after the Labor Department released the numbers. Futures earlier had pointed to a lower open following Thursday's aggressive selloff.
Investor nerves were frayed Thursday by an unexpected surge in jobless claims and worries over sovereign debt, resulting in the worst day for the S&P 500 since April 20, 2009. The across-the-board selloff put the Dow, the S&P 500, and the Nasdaq at their lowest levels since early November.
Consensus forecasts call for no jobs to be either gained or lost from the U.S. economy, though some economists expressed renewed doubts about that following the jobless claims report Thursday morning. The unemployment rate is expected to drop to 10 percent from last month's 10.1 percent. The report comes out at 8:30 am New York time.
In corporate news, Air Products and chemicals has launched a hostile bid to buy its chief rival Airgas for about $60 per share, a 38 percent premium to Thursday's closing price. The deal is valued at about $7 billion including assumed debt.
Airgas shares rose about 30 percent in premarket trading.
Also out today: December figures at consumer credit, set to be issued at 3 pm. Economists are looking for outstanding consumer credit to drop by $8 billion for the month following a $17.5 billion drop in November.
The earnings calendar, as usual for a Friday morning, is a bit lighter, but there will be the latest numbers from Aetna, Aon, Simon Properties, TECO Energy, and Tyson Foods.
Toyota remains in the news, with Japan's Nikkei business daily reporting that the company is planning to recall 270,000 Prius models in the U.S. and Japan to fix a braking problem. Toyota would not comment on the report yesterday, but the company's CEO is holding a news conference shortly to comment on Toyota's recent recall problems.
- Written by Peter Schacknow, Senior Producer, CNBC Breaking News Desk.