Futures were little changed on the last session of the year on Friday, with no notable economic data or earnings reports on tap.
Stocks rallied on Thursday, moving the S&P 500 back into positive territory for 2011 ahead of the last trading day of the year, on more positive signals on the U.S. economy. However, many investors are likely to stay on the sidelines as they wait until the New Year to start making large bets.
European stocks inched higher in thin trade, with a number of euro zone indexes set to post 2011 losses of about 20 percent, hammered by the region's debt crisis.
On Thursday, Italy sold just over 7 billion euros ($9 billion) in an auction of longer-term debt, with yields falling, but failed to reassure markets.
Europe will continue to be the focus of investors' attention in the New Year, with elections possibly changing the political landscapeon the continent in 2012.
The U.S. Federal Reserve's balance sheet grew in the last week with a rise in central bank liquidity swaps, even though holdings of Treasurys and agency debt declined, Fed data showed on Thursday.