By Chuck Mikolajczak
NEW YORK (Reuters) – U.S. stock index futures inched higher on Friday, with gains in the prior session having moved the S&P 500 to within 2 points of a closing record, after upbeat economic data from Germany and ahead of a reading on U.S. consumer confidence.
* Germany grew 0.7 percent in the fourth quarter, more than double the expected 0.3 percent, pointing to a stronger 2015 for the region’s biggest economy and fueling optimism about growth in the broader euro zone.
* Investors await U.S. January import prices data at 8:30 a.m. for a gauge of inflation. Expectations call for a drop of 3.2 percent versus a 2.5 percent fall in December.
* The preliminary University of Michigan’s February reading on consumer sentiment is due at 10:00 a.m. Expectations call for a 98.1 reading.
* Equities rallied Thursday after a ceasefire agreement between Ukraine and Russia, with strong gains in technology shares pushing the Nasdaq to a 15-year high. The S&P 500 stands at 2,088.49, just shy of its 2,090.57 record on Dec. 29.
* Investors have been encouraged by signs of progress in Greek debt negotiations. A Greek government spokesman said the country will make every effort to reach a deal at Monday’s meeting of euro zone finance ministers on how to transition to a new support program.
* For the week, the Dow <.DJI> is up 0.8 percent, the S&P 500 <.SPX> is up 1.6 percent and the Nasdaq <.IXIC> is up 2.4 percent.
* J.M. Smucker Co <SJM.N> reported a 3.5 percent drop in quarterly profit as demand for its coffee products, including the Folgers brand, fell in the United States as prices rose.
* With 76 percent of S&P 500 companies having reported, about 71.4 percent have topped earnings expectations, according to Thomson Reuters data, while 56.8 percent have beaten on revenue. That compares to the long-term average of 63 percent for earnings and 61 percent for revenue.
* European shares rose, boosted by Germany’s growth figures that sent the country’s blue-chip DAX index <.GDAXI> to a record high and a recovery in Greek stocks.
* Asian shares soared on news of a ceasefire deal in Ukraine, while Sweden’s surprise move to cut its main rate into negative territory and hopes of a resolution between debt-strapped Greece and its creditors supported risk appetite.
Futures snapshot at 7:38 a.m. EST:
* S&P 500 e-minis <ESc1> were up 3.25 points, or 0.16 percent, with 78,715 contracts changing hands.
* Nasdaq 100 e-minis <NQc1> were up 10.75 points, or 0.25 percent, in volume of 15,032 contracts.
* Dow e-minis <1YMc1> were up 35 points, or 0.2 percent, with 11,387 contracts changing hands.
(Editing by Bernadette Baum)
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