NEW YORK – Wall Street was set for a higher open on Friday in the wake of data showing employment grew in November, defying expectations of a sharp pull back relating to Superstorm Sandy.
Nonfarm employment increased by 146,000 jobs last month, the Labor Department said on Friday, but a drop in the jobless rate to a near-four year low as people gave up the search for work suggested the labor market was still tepid.
"Overall, this is a pretty good number, even though we had a downward revision to the previous month," said Kathy Lien, managing director at BK Asset Management in New York.
"The real question, though, is whether this changes the Fed's attitude toward more stimulus. It doesn't remove the need for stimulus but might convince the Fed to opt for a smaller program."
Also to be released Friday is the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan's consumer sentiment index, at 9:55 a.m. (1455 GMT). Economists surveyed by Reuters expect a preliminary December reading of 82.4, down from 82.7 a month earlier.
Despite the strong gains in U.S. stock index futures, the market could easily turn course as investors remain anxious amid ongoing fiscal negotiations by congressional leaders.
S&P 500 futures gained 7 points and were above fair value, a formula that evaluates pricing by taking into account interest rates, dividends and time to expiration on the contract. Dow Jones industrial average futures gained 75 points and Nasdaq 100 futures added 18 points.
Amarin Corp shares fell 18.5 percent to $9.74 in premarket trading after the bio-pharmaceutical company raised $100 million in financing to help it launch its heart drug, Vascepa, but disappointed investors, who had hoped for a sale or partnership.
Netflix Inc may be in focus. Securities regulators may bring civil action against the firm and its chief executive for violating public disclosure rules with a Facebook post, Netflix said Thursday. The case raises questions about how public companies communicate on social media.
(Reporting by Angela Moon; Editing by Bernadette Baum and Kenneth Barry)