By Simon Kennedy, MarketWatch
LONDON (MarketWatch) -- U.S. stock futures pointed slightly higher Friday as investors eyed earnings from Oracle Corp. and also awaited the latest reading of fourth-quarter U.S. growth.TODAY'S INTERNATIONAL MARKET STORIES
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Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 32 points. S&P 500 futures rose 3.4 points to 1,166.10 and Nasdaq 100 futures gained 8.25 points to 1,957.75.
U.S. markets ended mixed Thursday after an early rally evaporated as a strengthening dollar sapped gains in commodities and related shares, and further weak demand for Treasury notes also weighed. The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed up around 5 points, while the S&P 500 fell 1.99 points and the Nasdaq Composite declined 1.35 points.
On the economic front Friday will be the third report on fourth-quarter gross domestic product at 8:30 a.m. Eastern. Economists polled by MarketWatch are expecting growth to be revised down to 5.7% from 5.9%.
Also due after markets open are figures on consumer sentiment for March from the University of Michigan.
Joseph LaVorgna, chief U.S. economist at Deutsche Bank, said consumer sentiment likely will lag other indicators of economic improvement until the labor market improves.
"A sustained improvement in household attitudes generally does not occur until the unemployment rate enters a noticeable downtrend -- something we expect to become more apparent over the next couple of months," he said in a note to clients.
The dollar lost ground against the euro Friday, reversing gains from the previous session when it hit a ten-month high against the European currency. That move came after euro-zone nations announced a plan to support debt-burdened Greece, if needed, through bilateral loans and the International Monetary Fund.
The euro /quotes/comstock/21o!x:seurusd (CUR_EURUSD 1.3375, +0.0098, +0.7381%) was recently up 0.7% at $1.3402. Oil prices stepped higher, with the May-dated light crude contract gaining 79 cents at $81.32 a barrel in electronic trading.
Among companies in focus, Oracle /quotes/comstock/15*!orcl/quotes/nls/orcl (ORCL 26.04, +0.28, +1.09%) reported a dip in fiscal third-quarter profit late Thursday to $1.2 billion, but also said sales rose 17% as it benefited from a pick-up in spending on business software and contributions from recently-acquired Sun Microsystems Inc. See story on Oracle's earnings.
Also after Thursday's close, Accenture /quotes/comstock/13*!acn/quotes/nls/acn (ACN 41.52, -0.27, -0.65%) said net income for its fiscal second quarter fell to $462 million from $502 million and revenue dipped 2% to $5.18 billion.
The New York Post reported that RadioShack Corp. /quotes/comstock/13*!rsh/quotes/nls/rsh (RSH 21.80, -0.29, -1.31%) is considering a sale of the company that could fetch more than $3 billion. It added one potential buyer is Best Buy /quotes/comstock/13*!bby/quotes/nls/bby (BBY 42.66, +1.48, +3.59%) .
News Corp. /quotes/comstock/15*!nws/quotes/nls/nws (NWS 17.04, +0.21, +1.25%) said it will begin charging for the Web sites of British newspapers The Times and The Sunday Times, starting in June. Both sites will be available for one pound ($1.48) a day, or two pounds a week. News Corp. also owns MarketWatch, the publisher of this report.
European markets were subdued, with Germany's DAX 30 Index dipping 0.2%, while many Asian markets posted strong gains, with Japan's Nikkei 225 Average jumping 1.5%.
Greek banks rallied after the aid package as well as a move by the European Central Bank to ease collateral rules.
Simon Kennedy is the City correspondent for MarketWatch in London.