U.S. Stock Futures Waver Ahead of Confidence, Factory Data

U.S. stock futures struggled for direction on Friday, with the Nasdaq 100 index aiming for a seventh-straight day of gains, as investors awaited industrial-production figures and consumer-sentiment data later in the day.

Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average slipped 2 points 15977, while those for the S&P 500 index inched 0.30 point lower, or 0.04%, to 1824.00. Futures for the Nasdaq 100 index added 2.75 points, or 0.1%, to 3653.75.

The muted moves followed an upbeat session on Thursday, when markets shrugged off weak data, and instead focused on encouraging earnings reports and deal news.

Economic data was also in the spotlight on Friday, with most releases expected to indicate a slowdown in the U.S. economy.

First up is the import-price index at 8:30 a.m. EST, which may show a 0.1% dip in January, according to economists polled by MarketWatch.

Likely to get more attention is the January industrial-production report out at 9:15 a.m. EST. Expectations are for 0.2% growth, a slowdown from December's 0.3% advance. The headline number will probably be boosted by utilities usage after the unusually cold weather this winter.

At 9:55 a.m. EST, consumer-sentiment data for February from the University of Michigan and Thomson Reuters are due, expected to show a drop to 80 from 81.2. Analysts at Monex Capital Markets said in a note that this release could cause a degree of uncertainty, "but its going to be the scale of any dip that will have the potential to provide real cause for concern."

Also of note, Richard Fisher, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, was scheduled to talk on Bloomberg radio at 10 a.m. EST. Fisher is a voting member of the Fed's policy-setting committee this year.

In the corporate space, Weight Watchers International Inc. (WTW) slumped 20% ahead of the open. The company on Thursday reported fourth-quarter earnings of 54 cents a share and forecast 2014 earnings of $1.30 a share to $1.60 a share, sharply lower than analysts' estimate of $2.72 a share.

American International Group Inc. (AIG) rose 0.3% premarket after the insurance firm said it swung to a fourth-quarter profit of $1.34 a share from a loss of $2.68 a share a year ago, speaking after the closing bell. AIG hiked its quarterly dividend by 25% to 12.5 cents a share and said it raised its stock buyback plan by $1 billion. It will cut its workforce by 3%, the insurance company told employees.

Kraft Foods Group Inc. (KRFT) was also likely to move in Friday's trade after reporting late Thursday that its fourth-quarter profit rose to $1.54 a share from 15 cents a share a year ago. The company said John Cahill, its executive chairman, will transition to non-executive chairman of Kraft's board on March 8.

On the earnings calendar on Friday, Campbell Soup Co. (CPB) is projected to report fiscal second-quarter earnings of 73 cents a share, according to a consensus survey by FactSet.

VF Corp. (VFC) is likely to post fourth-quarter earnings of 84 cents a share.

In other financial markets, European stocks traded in positive territory after economic-growth data for the euro zone showed a pickup in pace. Gross domestic product for the currency union advanced 0.3% quarter-on-quarter in the final three months of last year, with Italy ending its two-year recession.

Asia markets closed mostly higher. The dollar dropped against most major currencies, while most metals prices rose and oil prices fell.