Futures Edge Lower After 3-Day Stock Rally

U.S. stock index futures pointed to a slightly lower open Friday after three straight sessions of gains for the major averages and ahead of the start of third-quarter earnings season next week.

The three-day rally had the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 on track for their biggest weekly gains since July of last year, with the Nasdaq's weekly gain likely to be its best since October.

Stocks had been boosted Thursday by better-than-expected jobless claims data and some strong sales results from major retailers. The positive reports helped European stocks make modest gains Friday and Asian stock indexes closed in the green in the wake of the rally on Wall Street.

On the economic front, the May report on wholesale trade is out at 10 am New York time, with inventories expected to have risen 0.5 percent during the month following a 0.4 percent rise in April.

In corporate news, Airgas raised its bid for Air Products to $63.50 a share from its original offer of $60. And Reuters reported that Disney finalized a deal to sell its Miramax unit to construction magnate Ron Tutor and investment firm Colony Capital for between $600 million and $700 million in cash.

In the technology sector, Google CEO Eric Schmidt said he expects the company's license to operate its Chinese Web site to be renewed. Google shares rose 3.5 percent in premarket trading.

In other news, property and casualty insurance company Ace looks to have been picked to replace biotech Millipore in the S&P 500. Millipore is being acquired by Germany's Merck.

And BC Partners and Silver Lake Partners are buying health care company MultiPlan from Carlyle Group in a $3.1 billion private equity deal, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Jefferies lowered its outlook for Best Buy , cutting the company to hold from buy on concerns over "continued softness" in electronic sales. Shares fell 1.7 percent premarket.

In Europe, European Central Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet said budget cuts by EU countries will not lead the euro zone back into recession. The euro is holding near two-month highs amid Trichet's comments and the prospect of bank stress test results later this month.

Elsewhere, Iowa Republican Sen. Charles Grassley may vote against the financial overhaul bill after previously supporting it, because of concern over the provision that details how the legislation will be paid for.

And LeBron James announced in a TV special Thursday night that he would sign with the Miami Heat, prompting a scathing open letter from Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert. He promised Cavalier fans that the Cleveland would win a title before James' new team does.