Futures Slip; G-20, Manufacturing in Focus

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U.S. stock-index futures drifted lower Friday as traders closely watched headlines from a meeting of G-20 finance chiefs and mulled mixed manufacturing reports.

Today's Markets

As of 9:17 a.m. ET, Dow Jones Industrial Average futures fell 4 points to 13946, S&P 500 futures rose 0.75 point to 1519 and Nasdaq 100 futures rose 2.5 points to 2770.

While it may not have been a quiet week from a corporate news perspective, the markets have traded in a fairly tight range. The Dow is headed for a weekly loss of less than two-tenths of 1%, while the broader S&P 500 is looking for a gain of 0.22%. Indeed, the CBOE's VIX, which tracks implied equity volatility, is trading at 12.66 -- well below its 50 and 200-day moving averages and far from recent highs.

A two-day summit of the Group of 20 finance and central bank chiefs representing most of the world's most powerful economies could garner even more attention than usual. One of the main issues analysts will be looking for is what the group, meeting in Moscow, will say about currency manipulation.

The Japanese have been criticized for artificially pushing the yen exchange rate down in a bid to boost exports, while the Chinese have for years come under fire for keeping the yuan rate low. There have also been concerns in Europe about the euro appreciating too much and potentially hurting the competitiveness of eurozone exports.

Moves in the foreign exchange market tend to have widespread consequences in commodities, equities and other asset classes. A final communiqué isn't expected until Saturday, but drafts often leak early.

Traders will also got a handful of economic reports on the day.

U.S. factory output slumped by 0.1% in January from December, missing estimates of a 0.2% increase, according to a report from the Federal Reserve. Meanwhile, the New York Federal Reserve's regional manufacturing gauge rose to 10.04 in February -- its highest level since May 2012 -- from -7.78 in January. The gauge was expected to rise to -2. Readings above zero point to expansion, while those below indicate contraction. The more closely-watched survey from the Philadelphia Federal Reserve is due out next week.

A survey due out at 9:55 a.m. ET from Reuters and the University of Michigan could indicate consumer sentiment picked up slightly in early February from the end of January.

On the corporate front, billionaire investor Carl Icahn revealed a nearly 13% stake in Herbalife (NYSE:HLF), the weight management and health drink company that hedge fund manager Bill Ackman has repeatedly called a pyramid scheme. The shares surged some 18% on the news.

In commodities, oil prices edged lower. The benchmark U.S. contract dipped 46 cents, or 0.47%, to $96.85 a barrel. Wholesale New York Harbor gasoline rose 0.59% to $3.134 a gallon. Gold slid $7.50, or 0.73%, to $1,628 a troy ounce.

Foreign Markets

The Euro Stoxx 50 fell 0.26% to 2628, the English FTSE 100 rose 0.04% to 6330 and the German DAX slumped 0.17% to 7618.

In Asia, the Japanese Nikkei 225 sold off by 1.2% to 11174 and the Chinese Hang Seng drifted higher by 0.13% to 23445.