By Steve Goldstein, MarketWatch
LONDON (MarketWatch) -- U.S. stock futures inched up Friday in anticipation that first-quarter GDP won't derail the positive outlook several companies have delivered during earnings season and that a Greek aid package may be locked up by the weekend.
S&P 500 futures rose 1.5 points to 1,206.80 and Nasdaq 100 futures rose 3.75 points to 2,044.70. Futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 14 points.
Traders on Friday will be awaiting U.S. GDP data at 8:30 a.m. Eastern, expected to show slower but more balanced growth compared to the fourth quarter.
U.S. real GDP probably grew at a 3.2% seasonally adjusted annual rate in the first three months of the year, down from 5.6% in the fourth quarter, according to economists surveyed by MarketWatch.
"The economy is gradually laying the foundation for a sustainable recovery," said Peter D'Antonio, economist for Citigroup Global Markets, in a note to clients.TODAY'S INTERNATIONAL MARKET STORIES
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Overseas, Spain's jobless rate rose to over 20% in the first quarter as the euro-zone jobless rate held at 10% in March. See Spain story.
Greek stocks extended gains, with the ASE Composite up 1.3%, and the euro /quotes/comstock/21o!x:seurusd (CUR_EURUSD 1.3324, +0.0085, +0.6420%) also advancing amid reports Greece has agreed to a 24 billion euro austerity package in exchange for joint aid from the International Monetary Fund and the euro zone. See story.
Asian markets also generally were stronger.
Goldman Sachs /quotes/comstock/13*!gs/quotes/nls/gs (GS 160.24, +3.23, +2.06%) fell nearly 4% as The Wall Street Journal reported federal prosecutors are conducting a criminal investigation into whether it or its employees committed securities fraud, following a referral from the Securities and Exchange Commission on its complaint over the sale of collateralized debt obligations.
The report said the Goldman probe, by the Manhattan U.S. Attorney's Office, is at a preliminary stage. Many criminal probes are launched without the government bringing charges, the report noted.
Barclays /quotes/comstock/13*!bcs/quotes/nls/bcs (BCS 22.33, +0.85, +3.96%) dropped in London trade as the U.K. bank reported a 29% profit rise that disappointed analysts, particularly as the group's fixed income division didn't match some peers. See Barclays story.
BP /quotes/comstock/13*!bp/quotes/nls/bp (BP 52.56, -4.78, -8.34%) rose while Transocean /quotes/comstock/13*!rig/quotes/nls/rig (RIG 78.51, -6.32, -7.45%) fell in early premarket action, following their steep losses as analysts debate the costs from the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. BP's market capitalization has dropped by around $25 billion since a rig fire was announced. See related story.
U.S. stocks rallied Thursday, helped by supportive economic data, earnings from the health sector, apparent diluting of financial legislation and moves in Germany to bring forward a debate on delivering Greek aid. The Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 122 points in its best one-day advance since March 5.
Steve Goldstein is MarketWatch's London bureau chief.