U.S. stock index futures were slightly higher on Friday, indicating the market's recent gains could be extended, though investors held off from making large bets ahead of the highly anticipated May payroll report.
A weaker-than-expected report could spark a selloff on Wall Street, especially with major indexes coming off a string of record highs and light trading volume recently, which could make the market more susceptible to big swings.
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About 218,000 jobs are expected to have been added in May, down from 288,000 added in April. The report, due at 8:30 a.m. EDT (1230 GMT), is also expected to show the U.S. unemployment rate rose to 6.4 percent in May from 6.3 percent.
Recent data, including jobless claims and the ADP report on private sector employment this week, have indicated some softness in the labor market, though that has not swayed a view that the economy is improving as underlying trends continue to point to firming conditions.
Wall Street rallied on Thursday, boosted by the European Central Bank's move to cut rates to record lows and its pledge to do more if needed to fight off the risk of deflation.
S&P 500 futures <SPc1> rose 1.7 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 <DJc1> added 30 points and Nasdaq 100 futures <NDc1> rose 4.75 points. * Equities have been strong lately, with the S&P 500 rising in nine of the past 11 sessions to advance 3.6 percent over that period. The benchmark index has ended at a record high five times in the past six sessions.
Despite that strength, the moves have largely come in thin trading. About 93,464 S&P 500 e-mini <ESc1> contracts traded hands as of 7:00 a.m. on Friday, suggesting another day of anemic action.
For the week, the Dow is up 0.7 percent, the S&P is up 0.9 percent and the Nasdaq is up 1.3 percent. Both the Dow and S&P are on track for their third straight weekly advance, while the Nasdaq is on track for its fourth.
Bank of America Corp <BAC.N> fell 0.8 percent in premarket trading a day after the Wall Street Journal reported that the bank could pay more than $12 billion to settle probes by the Justice Department and a number of states into its alleged handling of shoddy mortgages.
Sources told Reuters that General Motors Co <GM.N> has dismissed several high-ranking executives, including at least one vice president and two directors, for their roles in the still-unfolding drama over deadly ignition switches in older GM cars.
Novavax Inc <NVAX.O> was the Nasdaq's most active premarket mover, down 4.9 percent in heavy volume a day after a public offering of 25 million common shares was priced at a discount to its Thursday close.