By Ryan Vlastelica
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Stock index futures edged higher on Friday as the market's recent momentum returned, putting equities on track for a strong week that repeatedly took indexes to record highs.
The length of the recent rally has surprised many, and it may be difficult for the upward momentum to continue without further catalysts, such as first-quarter earnings reports, which are nearing an end. The S&P 500 ended a five-day streak of record closing highs on Thursday, while the Dow broke a two-day streak by dipping modestly.
Still, investors expect shares to generally trend higher given the Federal Reserve's accommodative monetary environment and encouraging data on the labor market, including jobless claims on Thursday and last week's payroll report.
"Between the jobs report, quantitative easing and a 0 percent interest rate policy, there's no question that there's a floor under the market and that it wants to go up, even if some sectors are overdone," said Chris Bertelsen, chief investment officer of Global Financial Private Capital in Sarasota, Florida.
Boeing Co will be in focus a day after the company said it had succeeded in getting its factories to churn out 787 Dreamliners at a faster pace this week, a change that came sooner than expected and positions the plane maker to possibly deliver more of the high-tech jet than forecast.
S&P 500 futures rose 3.8 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 added 64 points and Nasdaq 100 futures rose 6 points.
For the week, the Dow is up 0.7 percent, the S&P is 0.8 percent higher and the Nasdaq has gained 0.9 percent. It is the third week of gains for all three.
Cyclical sectors closely tied to the pace of economic growth were among the biggest gainers in the recent rally on an improved global outlook.
"We're seeing a real rotation out of defensive names and into groups like technology and industrials," said Bertelsen, who helps oversee $2 billion in assets. "That's keeping the market moving and preventing it from plateauing."
Priceline.com Inc late Thursday reported first-quarter earnings that beat expectations, though its second-quarter outlook disappointed.
Molycorp Inc reported a first-quarter loss that widened from the prior year, though revenue rose sharply, sending shares up 8.4 percent to $6.06 before the bell.
With 89 percent of the S&P 500 having reported, 66.7 percent have topped profit expectations, above the average since 1994 of 63 percent. However, only 46.4 percent of companies have beaten revenue expectations, well under the historical average.
Activist investor Carl Icahn and Southeastern Asset Management proposed an alternative to a $24.4 billion buyout deal for Dell Inc that involved giving shareholders an option to receive either $12 a share in cash or $12 in additional shares valued at $1.65 each.
Shares of Dell rose 0.5 percent to $13.39 in premarket trading.
On Thursday, an extended rally for U.S. stocks came to an end as equities dipped slightly in a volatile session and shares of Apple Inc declined.
(Editing by Theodore d'Afflisio)