U.S. stocks are seen opening higher Friday, building on the strong close to the previous session with the banking sector likely to be in the spotlight.
Wall Street closed higher Thursday, boosted by a late rally, with the S&P 500 ending up 0.6%, snapping a two-day losing streak, the Dow Jones Industrial Average up 0.6% and the Nasdaq Composite 0.1% higher, but had been down more than 1% intraday.
These late gains broke a recent trend of poor finishes, with the Dow and S&P 500 now potentially recording a positive week, meaning March could be the fourth strong month in five. The Nasdaq Composite is still 1.8% lower, heading for its first down month since October.
Bank stocks are likely to be in the spotlight Friday after the Federal Reserve announced late Thursday that these financial institutions can resume buybacks and raise dividends in the second half of the year, pending the results of stress tests in June
While these restrictions were originally meant to be lifted in the first quarter, even this delayed move will be received positively with investors gaining more clarity.
Helping the tone has been expectations of a strengthening economic recovery, particularly on the back of large doses of fiscal and monetary stimuli and a successful vaccination program.
Weekly jobless claims fell to a one-year low and fourth-quarter GDP growth beat expectations on Thursday. Friday sees the release of personal income and spending figures for February as well as the final print of the University of Michigan reading for March.
Oil prices rebounded Friday amid worries that it may take weeks to free the container ship stuck in the Suez Canal, blocking supply through the key waterway for a prolonged period of time.
U.S. crude futures traded 1.8% higher at $59.62 a barrel, while the Brent contract rose 1.7% to $62.98. However, both benchmarks are on course for a weekly loss of about 3%, with the fresh coronavirus lockdowns in Europe hitting the outlook for demand.
Elsewhere, gold futures fell 0.2% to $1,722.50/oz, while EUR/USD traded 0.1% higher at 1.1779.