U.S. stocks look set for a downbeat open Friday, as investors wait to hear from a clutch of Federal Reserve officials, getting in comments before the next meeting blackout kicks in.
The muted mood follows declines for European and Asian markets, which were unsettled by North Korea's confirmation that it has successfully carried out a fifth nuclear test. Another factor was a pullback in oil prices, coming after a rally Thursday on the back of a surprise decline in U.S. crude stockpiles.
Futures of the Dow Jones Industrial Average were down 24 points, or 0.1%, at 18,537.00 and futures for the S&P 500 shed 2 points, or 0.1%, to 2,175.75. Futures for the Nasdaq-100 posted a loss of 6.25 points, or 0.1%, at 4,789.75.
The declines added to Thursday's losses, which came after the European Central Bank decided not to extend its easing. The S&P 500 and the Dow Jones Industrial each fell 0.3%, while the Nasdaq Composite Index gave up 0.4%.
"With the ECB's inaction sparking fears that central banks have lost confidence in the benefits of further monetary easing, Wall Street could find itself vulnerable to steeper losses," said FXTM Research analyst Lukman Otunuga in a note.
"Bears are on the prowl for the catalyst which could trigger a heavy market selloff, and [that] should force investors to remain alert," he added.
For the week, the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq Composite are on course for a rise of 0.1% each. Dow industrials are looking at a 0.1% decline.