Dow futures fall 85 pts; Michigan consumer sentiment index due

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Dow futures fall 85 pts; Michigan consumer sentiment index due

By Peter Nurse -- U.S. stocks are seen opening in a mixed fashion Friday, consolidating following the previous session’s relief rally after a group of large lenders joined forces to try and contain the regional banking crisis.

At 07:00 ET (11:00 GMT), the Dow Futures contract was down 85 points or 0.3%, S&P 500 Futures traded 2 points or 0.1% lower, while Nasdaq 100 Futures climbed 15 points or 0.1%.

The major averages posted strong gains on Thursday, with the blue-chip Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) gaining 370 points or 1.2%, the broad-based S&P 500 rising 1.8%, and the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite 2.5%.

This followed the announcement that a number of large U.S. banks, led by JPMorgan (NYSE: JPM ), Citigroup (NYSE: C ), Bank of America (NYSE: BAC ) and Wells Fargo (NYSE: WFC ), had deposited $30 billion of uninsured funds into First Republic Bank (NYSE: FRC ), a regional lender that was suffering in the wake of the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank.

U.S. equities are on course for a strong week. The DJIA is currently 1.1% higher this week, the S&P 500 is set to gain 2.6%, heading for its best weekly performance since January, while the Nasdaq is up 5.2%, on track for its best week since November.

The turmoil in the banking sector has shifted sentiment regarding the outcome of next week's Federal Reserve policy meeting. Many investors now expect the central bank to lift interest rates by a quarter of a percentage point, a change from the 50 basis points that had been the widely held expectation last week.

Economic data due for release later Friday include the preliminary reading of the consumer sentiment index from the University of Michigan, as well as industrial and manufacturing production for February.

The so-called triple witching day could add stock market volatility Friday, with the three derivatives contracts – options, index options, and index futures – set to expire at the same time.

In corporate news, Google (NASDAQ: GOOGL ) could be in the spotlight after the tech giant announced a price increase for its YouTube TV subscription, citing increased content costs.

Oil prices climbed higher Friday on hopes of a response from OPEC and its allies to the week's sharp selloff on concerns the banking crisis would hurt global economic activity.

Reports indicated that energy ministers from Saudi Arabia and Russia met in Riyadh on Thursday to discuss potential action to support the crude market, which is on course for its biggest weekly loss this year.

The advisory committee of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and their allies including Russia, a group known as OPEC+, will meet on April 3.

By 07:00 ET, U.S. crude futures traded 1.7% higher at $69.49 a barrel, while the Brent contract rose 1.3% to $75.64.

Both benchmarks hit their lowest levels in more than a year this week and are set to post weekly falls of around 10%, their biggest since December.

Additionally, gold futures rose 0.6% to $1,934.85/oz, while EUR/USD traded 0.3% higher at 1.0633.

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