NEW YORK – Stock futures rose on Friday, pointing to a modest rebound for Wall Street after Thursday's retreat, though investors remained concerned about a lack of progress by politicians in ongoing fiscal negotiations.
Economic data out of China showed that manufacturing in the world's second-largest economy grew at its fastest pace in 14 months in December. That indicated China's economy was on the mend, encouraging news for its key trading partners such as the United States.
However, in Europe, the euro zone's manufacturing and services sectors showed only small signs of improvement and remained in contraction territory.
"If we assume we're going to have a continuation of a shallow recession in the euro zone, the global economy can actually increase in terms of GDP with a pick up in the pace of the Chinese economy," said Art Hogan, managing director of Lazard Capital Markets in New York.
"The bad news is, in large part, we've seen the market ignore relatively good news in the economic data stream as we focus on the fiscal cliff."
President Barack Obama and House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner held a "frank" meeting Thursday to try to break an impasse in negotiations over the "fiscal cliff," tax hikes and spending cuts set to kick in early in 2013.
Frustration has mounted over the lack of progress in the discussions, with market participants' worries reflected in a 0.6 percent drop in the S&P 500 on Thursday. Investors are concerned that going over the cliff could tip the economy back into recession. While a deal is expected to be reached eventually, a drawn-out debate - like the one seen over 2011's debt ceiling - can erode confidence.
"I think the market is convinced, due to the fact that we haven't seen much of a pullback, that some (fiscal) compromise will happen before the end of the year," said Hogan.
Worries over the outcome of the talks ended the S&P 500's six-day winning streak on Thursday, but the index has performed well over the past month. On Wednesday, the S&P hit its highest intraday level since late October.
S&P 500 futures rose 2 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 32 points, and Nasdaq 100 futures added 1 point.
The consumer price index for November is due at 8:30 a.m. ET, while industrial production will be released at 9:15 a.m. ET.
Shares of Adobe Systems were up 5.8 percent at $37.59 in premarket trading after the company said it expected profit and earnings to grow from 2013 onwards.
Sprint Nextel Corp's $2.1 billion offer to buy out Clearwire Corp appeared to be running into trouble on Thursday, as some shareholders said they wanted more money, while Softbank Corp <9984.T> set a cap on how much Sprint could pay.
Clearwire shed 1.6 percent to $3.11 in light premarket trading.
Apple's iPhone 5 will be released in China on Friday but its longer-term hopes may depend on new technology being tested by China's top telecoms carrier. Shares of Apple were down 1.7 percent at $520.50 in premarket trading.
(Editing by Bernadette Baum)