4 Min Read
* Blackberry slumps after results
* Molycorp climbs after SEC investigation
* Accenture tumbles after earnings, outlook
* Futures up: Dow 33 pts, S&P 4.5 pts, Nasdaq 7.25 pts
By Chuck Mikolajczak
NEW YORK, June 28 (Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures advanced on Friday, putting the S&P on track for its first four-day gain since early April, as concerns eased over a premature pullback of central bank stimulus measures and following upbeat economic data from Japan.
The S&P 500 has risen 2.6 percent over the past three sessions as economic data and comments from U.S. Federal Reserve officials soothed worries over an earlier-than-expected reining in of stimulative bond purchases by the Fed.
The benchmark S&P index had slumped as much as 4.8 percent in the days following a June 19 statement from the U.S. Federal Reserve, when Chairman Ben Bernanke said the Fed could start slowing its stimulative bond purchases later this year if growth was strong enough.
"When you have dramatic selloffs like we had, so quickly and so far, that just doesn't happen in the U.S. equity markets without some sort of bounce back," said Keith Bliss, senior vice president at Cuttone & Co in New York.
"The market was set up to move higher based on quantitative and technical work, and then you've got all these Fed officials talking - they just basically put gas on the fire."
Japanese data showed consumer prices stopped falling in May and labor demand was at its strongest in five years, though the Bank of Japan's time frame for achieving a 2 percent inflation target still appeared unlikely.
U.S. economic data expected on Friday includes the June index of manufacturing activity from the Institute for Supply Management Chicago at 9:45 a.m. EDT (1345 GMT). Economists in a Reuters survey forecast a reading of 56.0, from 58.7 in May.
Shortly after at 9:55 a.m. (1355 GMT), the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan Surveys of Consumers final June consumer sentiment index is due. Economists polled by Reuters expect a reading of 82.8 compared with 82.7 in the preliminary June report.
The recent rally for the S&P 500 marks its best three-day performance since early January. The index is currently up 2.8 percent for the quarter and 13.1 percent for the year, though it is on track for its first monthly loss since October.
S&P 500 futures rose 4.5 points and were 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 gained 33 points, and Nasdaq 100 futures added 7.25 points.
Investors can expect a surge of volume at the close Friday when Russell Investments is due to set the final update for the annual reconstitution of its indexes.
U.S.-listed shares of Research in Motion plunged 20.7 percent to $11.48 in premarket trading after the BlackBerry maker reported a fiscal first-quarter loss and forecast a loss in the current quarter.
Molycorp Inc jumped 11.1 percent to $6.23 in premarket after the rare earths producer said the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has completed an investigation against the company and has not recommended any enforcement action.
Accenture PLC tumbled 8 percent to $73.80 in premarket after the outsourcing and consulting services provider cut its full-year outlook, and reported third-quarter revenue below analysts' estimates.
Arch Coal Inc rose 12.2 percent to $4.04 before the opening bell after the company agreed to sell its Canyon Fuel subsidiary for $435 million in cash.
European shares fell, hitting the buffers as technical resistance around the 1,156 level stalled momentum. Trade was subdued, as investors avoided making large bets at the end of a volatile quarter.
Asian shares rose for a third day, led by Tokyo's Nikkei index, to end the first half of the year up a barnstorming 31.5 percent.