(By Balachander) U.S. stock index futures pointed to a sharply higher opening on the Wall Street as investors eye a speech by Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke for any hints of further stimulus measures.
Mini Dow Industrial Average futures rose 116 points to 13,098. The Nasdaq futures advanced 27.75 points to 2,781.50. Standard and Poor's 500 futures gained 12.60 points to 1,409.70.
On the data front, the Institute of Supply Management-Chicago's business survey for August may show U.S. business activity to fell to 53.5 from 53.7 in July.
At 9:55 am ET, a Reuters and the University of Michigan report may show the consumer sentiment index for August remained at 73.6.
A Commerce Department report at 10 am ET may show factory goods orders increased 2 percent in July after a 0.5 percent decline in June.
On Thursday, U.S. stocks closed in red as investors exercised caution ahead of speech by Bernanke and weak economic data from Europe and Japan raised global growth worries.
Hot Stocks Of The Day: SAI, NAV, ESL, ZUMZ
In corporate news, SAIC Inc. (NYSE:SAI) jumped 7.96 percent in premarket after the McLean, Virginia-based provider of cyber security services announced its plan to separate SAIC into two independent, publicly traded companies. The company also posted stronger-than-expected quarterly revenue.
Navistar International Corp. (NYSE:NAV) estimates a charge of between $40 million and $60 million in the fourth quarter in connection with its restructuring program, a regulatory filing showed. The U.S. Environmental Agency (EPA) has increased the penalty that the Lisle, Illinois-based company has to pay for each engine that does not does not meet current emissions standards. The penalty is $3,744 per engine.
Esterline Technologies Corp. (NYSE:ESL) may be in spotlight after the maker of engineered systems for aerospace and defense markets posted a quarterly loss due to a charge at its Racal Acoustics segment. The company maintained its 2012 forecast.
Zumiez Inc. (NASDAQ:ZUMZ) slumped 10.71 percent in premarket after the retailer of sports apparel issued a downbeat earnings view for the third quarter following a decline in second quarter earnings.
European markets traded sharply higher, with Germany's DAX up 1.36 percent to trade at 6,989.59. France's CAC40 gained 1.30 percent to trade at 3,423.00. U.K.'s FTSE 100 rose 0.61 percent to trade at 5,754.24.
Among Asian markets, China's Shanghai Stock Exchange Composite Index dipped 0.25 percent to finish at 2,047.52. Japan's Nikkei 225 declined 1.60 percent to end at 8,839.91. Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index dropped 0.36 percent to end at 19,482.57. India's BSE Sensex closed at 17,380.75, down 0.92 percent.
Ahead of the opening bell, crude oil futures gained 0.69 percent to $95.27 per barrel. Gold futures added 0.37 percent to $1,663.3 per ounce.
In the currency market, the euro climbed 0.95 percent against the U.S. dollar to 1.2625, and the British pound added 0.55 percent to 1.5873. The dollar declined 0.24 percent against the Japanese yen to 78.4400.