U.S. Stock Futures Slip Ahead of GDP, Sentiment Data

Stock futures slipped in early trading on Friday ahead of updated U.S. growth data and a handful of consumer sentiment surveys, with investors uncertain if the bulls or bears are in control after the S&P 500 busted through a key level in the previous session.

Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 14 points to 16258, while those for the S&P 500 index eased 2.2 points to 1851.70. Futures for the Nasdaq-100 index fell 4.75 points to 3696.75.

Revised fourth-quarter gross domestic product data is due at 8:30 a.m. EST, and economists polled by MarketWatch expect GDP to be reduced to 2.4% from an initial 3.2%. A slowdown in consumer spending, less-robust growth in exports and companies that didn't stock up on inventories as much as first seen are all expected to be contributing factors.

Also on the schedule, the Chicago purchasing managers index is seen dropping down to 56.0% from 59.6% in February, with that data due at 9:45 a.m. EST. Next up, the University of Michigan consumer-sentiment is survey is projected to rise slightly in February to 81.8 from 81.2, with that data due at 9:55 a.m. EST.

Finally, pending-home sales for January, due at released at 10 a.m. EST, are also expected to decline.

"That scheduled U.S. GDP revision will attract some scrutiny as concerns over the state of the economic recovery grow, while the University of Michigan confidence reading and pending-home sales numbers will also have the ability to provide some direction," said Joao Monteiro, analyst at Valutrades, in a note.

There are plenty of questions surrounding whether the bulls or the bears are in charge right now. S&P at 1,850 isn't that important, analysts say

Friday marks the last day of trading for February, with the S&P 500 index poised for a 4% gain on the month. The index closed at a fresh record on Thursday, finishing up 9.13 points, or 0.5%, at 1854.29 as it turned positive for the year. Driving those gains were dovish remarks from Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen in which she reaffirmed the central bank's accommodative policy.

Chris Weston, chief market strategist at IG, noted that Asia markets didn't seem too interested in that fresh S&P 500 record. "The fact that only 6% of all S&P 500 stocks on the index closed at or near a 52-week high shows that the break-out was relatively halfhearted," he said in a note.

But he added that when the market has no clear catalyst and "confusion sets in, it is a good idea to do what has worked over the medium term and buy U.S. stocks and European debt."

Asia stocks were up slightly overall, although the Japan market logged small declines. The bigger attention was on the Chinese yuan, which had its biggest drop against the dollar in years amid widespread speculation by traders that the People's Bank of China is massively intervening to bring down the value of the currency.

Tensions between Russia and Ukraine remained high on Friday, though markets were calmer over the situation. Armed men were occupying two key airports in Ukraine region of Crimea, a move that the interior minister called an "armed invasion and occupation by Russia."

European stocks fell after better-than-expected euro-zone inflation data eased pressure on the European Central Bank to cut interest rates next week at its meeting. Gold prices and oil prices were also easier as investors awaited U.S. GDP data.

Salesforce.com Inc. (CRM) could get some premarket attention after posting a wider loss for the fourth quarter late Thursday.

Gap Inc.(GPS) may see pressure after the retailer posted a fall in profit and sales, and delivered a disappointing outlook. Shares eased in late trade Thursday.

Liberty Media Corp. (LMCA) is among a handful of companies on Friday's earnings calendar.