7:13 AM EST, December 20, 2013
* Red Hat gains after earnings, outlook
* Credit Suisse upgrades Carnival
* Final GDP reading due
* Futures up: Dow 16 pts, S&P 2 pts, Nasdaq 5.5 pts
By Chuck Mikolajczak
NEW YORK, Dec 20 (Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures
advanced on Friday, putting the S&P 500 on track for its biggest
weekly climb in two months, as investors appeared confident the
economy will grow even as the Federal Reserve scales back its
* Investors will eye the final reading of gross domestic
product at 8:30 a.m. EST (1330 GMT) for confirmation of a
growing economy. Economists in a Reuters survey expect the
economy to show growth of 3.6 percent on an annualized basis.
* On Wednesday, the central bank modestly trimmed the pace
of its monthly asset purchases, by $10 billion to $75 billion,
and sought to temper the long-awaited move by suggesting its key
interest rate would stay at rock bottom even longer than
* Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke said that if U.S. jobs gains
continue as expected, the bond purchases would likely continue
to be cut at a "measured" pace through much of next year and
would probably be wound down "late in the year, certainly not by
the middle of the year."
* S&P 500 futures rose 2 points and were modestly
above fair value, a formula that evaluates pricing by taking
into account interest rates, dividends and time to expiration on
the contract. Dow Jones industrial average futures rose
16 points and Nasdaq 100 futures added 5.5 points.
* The S&P 500 has gained nearly 27 percent this year,
putting the benchmark index on track for its biggest yearly gain
since 1997, largely fueled by the Fed's stimulus measures.
* Red Hat Inc jumped 13.4 percent in light premarket
trading after the world's largest commercial distributor of the
Linux operating system reported third-quarter results above
analysts' estimates and raised its full-year forecast.
* Carnival Corp gained 4.8 percent to $39.97 before
the opening bell after Credit Suisse boosted its rating on the
stock to "outperform" from "neutral."
* European equities steadied, consolidating at the end of
their best week in eight months, with further gains capped by
year-end profit taking and concerns about Chinese money market
* Asian shares crept higher, but Chinese stocks fell on
concerns over a renewed liquidity squeeze as China's benchmark
money market rate climbed to a six-month high despite attempts
by the People's Bank of China to calm sentiment.
Copyright © 2013, Reuters