After moving notably lower over the course of the previous session, stocks are likely to move back to the upside in early trading on Friday. The major index futures are currently pointing to a sharply higher open for the markets, with the Dow futures up by 115 points.
The upward momentum for the markets comes as traders express optimism about Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke's upcoming speech at the Kansas City Fed's Jackson Hole symposium. Bernanke is due to speak at about 10 am ET.
Many traders expect Bernanke to make comments indicating whether the central bank will engage in another round of quantitative easing.
A research note from Capital Economics said, "Given the unexpectedly strong signal in the minutes of the latest FOMC meeting that QE3 is coming fairly soon, we expect that Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke will reinforce the case for more action in his speech at Jackson Hole."
"Although a few of the non-voting regional Fed Presidents still appear to have reservations, we doubt that the slight uptick in the incoming economic data in the past couple of weeks will have softened Bernanke's resolve," the note added.
With the focus on Bernanke's speech, traders are likely to ignore a trio of U.S. economic reports on consumer sentiment, factory orders, and Chicago-area business activity.
Among individual stocks, shares of OmniVision Technologies (OVTI) are moving sharply higher in pre-market trading after the image sensor maker reported better than expected first quarter revenues and raised its second quarter revenue guidance.
Government IT contractor SAIC, Inc. (SAI) may also move to the upside after reporting second quarter revenues that exceeded analyst estimates. The company also announced plans to separate into two independent, publicly traded companies.
Meanwhile, shares of Zumiez (ZUMZ) are likely to come under pressure after the sports equipment retailer forecast third quarter earnings below analyst estimates.
After turning in a lackluster performance over the course of the three previous sessions, stocks saw notable weakness during trading on Thursday. Uncertainty ahead of Bernanke's speech contributed to the weakness on Wall Street.
The major averages moved to the downside going into the close, with the S&P 500 ending the day just below 1,400. The S&P 500 fell 11.01 points or 0.8 percent to 1,399.48, while the Dow slid 106.77 points or 0.8 percent to 13,000.71 and the Nasdaq dropped 32.48 points or 1.1 percent to 3,048.71.
In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region moved mostly lower during trading on Friday. Japan's Nikkei 225 Index tumbled by 1.6 percent, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index ended the day down by 0.4 percent.
Meanwhile, the major European markets have shown notable moves to the upside on the day. While the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index is up by 0.6 percent, the French CAC 40 Index and the German DAX Index have surged up by 1.3 percent and 1.4 percent, respectively.
In commodities trading, crude oil futures are climbing $0.65 to $95.27 a barrel after sliding $0.87 to $94.62 a barrel on Thursday. Gold futures are advancing $5.80 to $1,662.90 an ounce. In the previous session, gold fell $5.90 to $1,657.10 an ounce.
On the currency front, the U.S. dollar is currently trading at 78.42 yen compared to the 78.63 yen it fetched at the close of New York trading on Thursday. Against the euro, the dollar is valued at $1.2618 compared to yesterday's $1.2506.(RTTNEWS)
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