Stock index futures gained on Friday after Procter & Gamble reported a higher quarterly profit and as the S&P 500 looked set to extend its best winning streak in more than six years.
The strong start to the year has been attributed to solid corporate earnings, agreement in Washington over raising the debt limit, encouraging recovery signs in the global economy and seasonal inflows to equity markets.
Those factors helped the S&P 500 rally for a seventh day on Thursday to a five-year peak. But the index is struggling to move convincingly above 1,500, a level it surpassed briefly Thursday for the first time since December 2007.
"You have had more confidence from fund managers to provide more allocations to equity markets," said Rick Meckler, president of investment firm LibertyView Capital Management, who added equities were looking more attractive than bonds or cash.
Procter & Gamble , the world's top household products maker reported a higher profit on Friday and raised its sales and earnings outlook for the fiscal year. Shares were up 1.4 pct at $71.42 in premarket trading.
Earnings have helped drive the stock market's recent rally. Thomson Reuters data through early Thursday showed that of the 133 S&P 500 companies that have reported earnings so far, 66.9 percent have exceeded expectations, above the 65 percent average over the past four quarters.
Microsoft Corp's quarterly profit edged lower as Office software sales slowed ahead of a new launch, offsetting a solid but unspectacular start for its Windows 8 operating system and sending the company's shares down 1.1 percent.
S&P 500 futures rose 3.2 point 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 rose 44 points and Nasdaq 100 futures rose 9.75 points.
Echoing a more positive tone in Europe, ECB President Mario Draghi said he expects the euro zone economy to recover later this year, adding that financial market improvements have not yet trickled into the general economy. Draghi was speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos on Friday.
Halliburton , the world's second-largest oilfield services company, is also due to report results.
Apple stepped up audits of working conditions at major suppliers last year, discovering multiple cases of underage workers, discrimination and wage problems. The shares, which fell 12 percent Thursday after disappointing earnings, edged up 0.2 percent to $451.80.
Honeywell , the diversified U.S. manufacturer, will be in focus as it reports earnings, with modest growth in demand for systems used to manage large buildings expected to be offset by declining sales to the military.
The Commerce Department releases new home sales data for December at 10:00 a.m. (1500 GMT). Economists forecast a total of 385,000 annualized units, compared with 377,000 in November.
Economic Cycle Research Institute releases its weekly index of economic activity for January 18 at 10:30 a.m. (1530 GMT). In the prior week the index read 130.
European shares <.FTEU3> rose 0.1 percent after a survey showed German business morale improved for a third consecutive month in January.
(Editing by Bernadette Baum)