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Futures Waffle as Market Weathers Storm

US stock index futures signaled a flat open for Wall Street on weak earnings from AIG and as another brutal East Coast storm disrupted business activity.

Futures had been positive earlier but shed gains after American International Group reported an $8.9 billion quarterly loss and said it is looking to modify its plan to repay bailout money. AIG shares fell 5.6 percent in premarket trading.

Futures briefly turned negative after the second reading on fourth-quarter gross domestic product was even a bit better than the first print in January, coming in at 5.9 percent as opposed to the initial 5.7 percent gain. The increase in the revision was expected.

The quick selloff may have been triggered by sentiment that the gains in GDP were largely driven by a $16.9 billion slash of inventories. Real final sales of domestic products, which subtracts the change in private inventories from GDP, increased just 1.9 percent, which was a downward revision from 2.2 percent.

The change is reflective of a weakening in demand, something also displayed in a government report Thursday that showed a drop in orders for long-lasting goods.

The inventory reductions accounted for 3.9 percentage points of the full GDP gains, the Commerce Department said, meaning growth outside inventories amounted to just 2.0 percent.

"(T)he composition of growth shifted, showing more inventory building and less underlying domestic demand," economist Zach Pandl, of Nomura Securities, wrote in a note to clients. "From a market perspective, the report should be treated a a worse-than-expected outcome, in our view."

Wall Street also was awaiting a handful of other economic signs. The week has been filled with a dismal series of reports on housing, unemployment, consumer confidence and bank lending, raising fears in some quarters that the threat of a double-dip recession continues to loom.

At 9:45 am New York time, the Chicago Purchasing Managers index for January will be out. Consensus forecasts call for a reading of 60.5, slightly lower than the January reading of 61.5. At 9:55 am, the University of Michigan consumer sentiment index will be released, with economists looking for a February reading of 73.7, identical to the prior reading.

The Conference Board's consumer confidence index did come in well below expectations earlier this week.

The National Association of Realtors issues January existing home sales figures at 10 am, with a 0.9 percent rise expected. In December, existing home sales jumped 16.7 percent.

On Thursday, the major US averages finished the day considerably off their lows, with the Dow trimming a 188-point deficit down to 53 by the close.

Computer security firm McAfee said it plans to acquire three or four companies each year to drive growth. CEO David DeWalt made the remarks in an interview with Reuters Television.

Dr. Pepper Snapple saw its shares take a hit after Goldman Sachs downgraded the firm to neutral from buy on sentiment that a windfall will fade from the planned purchase by Coca-Cola of its chief bottler Coca-Cola Enterprises. Dr Pepper shares fell 2.5 percent in premarket trading.

European shares were higher after a better than expected revision of UK gross domestic product in the fourth quarter and led by Spanish telecom company Telefonica, whose earnings met expectations. Asian stocks also ended higher.

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