US STOCKS-Futures point to higher open, but volume seen low

* Investors bullish about earnings, but volume seen weak

* W. House, Congress facing midnight deadline on budget

* Japan market rebounds after the latest earthquake

* Futures up: Dow 42 pts, S&P 6.5 pts, Nasdaq 6.75 pts

* For up-to-the-minute market news see [STXNEWS/US]
(Rewrites first paragraph, updates prices)

By Ryan Vlastelica

NEW YORK, April 8 (Reuters) – U.S. stock index futures
pointed to a higher open on Friday as investors speculated
quarterly earnings would show continued growth, but volume
during the session was expected to be light.

The earnings season will begin unofficially with Alcoa Inc
(AA.N: Quote, Profile, Research), the first Dow component to release results after the
market’s close on Monday. JPMorgan Chase & Co (JPM.N: Quote, Profile, Research) and
Google Inc (GOOG.O: Quote, Profile, Research) are due to report later in the week.

Recent volume has been among the lowest of the year as
investors wait to see how corporations are faring in an
environment with overseas headwinds but also signs of
recovery.

“Markets are showing signs of strength in anticipation of
strong profits next week, and we’re likely to see a pickup in
volume if we get some blow-out numbers,” said Eric Teal, who
helps manage $4.5 billion as chief investment officer at First
Citizens Bancshares Inc in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Teal added that there was downside potential if earnings
failed to live up to expectations that many consider high. “The
move we saw in the first quarter is contingent upon some
follow-through with strong earnings,” he said.

“If we see lackluster earnings, I think stocks are set up
to have a mild correction.”

S&P 500 futures (SPc1: Quote, Profile, Research) rose 6 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 (DJc1: Quote, Profile, Research) added 53
points and Nasdaq 100 futures (NDc1: Quote, Profile, Research) rose 8.75 points.

Commodity stocks rose on Friday, with prices driven by
expectations of stronger demand or threats of supply shortages.
Copper (CMCU3: Quote, Profile, Research) rose 1.9 percent while Brent crude gained 1.5
percent as attacks on Libyan oil fields continued. U.S.-listed
shares of miner Rio Tinto Plc (RIO.N: Quote, Profile, Research) rose 1.6 percent to
$73.58 in premarket trading. For details on oil, see
[ID:nL3E7F80GG]

The White House and Congress faced a midnight deadline to
break a budget deadlock and avoid a government shutdown. Steny
Hoyer, the No. 2 Democrat in the House, told NBC’s “Today”
program that negotiators were “very close.” [ID:nN08144565]

In Japan, dollar-denominated Nikkei futures (NKc1: Quote, Profile, Research) advanced
2.9 percent. The country was hit by a strong aftershock on
Thursday, though no damage was detected at the Fukushima
Daiic5hi nuclear plant. [ID:nL3E7F72Y2]

Data on February U.S. wholesale inventories will be
released at 10 a.m. [1400 GMT], which are seen rising 1
percent.

Shares of Seagate Technology Plc (STX.O: Quote, Profile, Research) climbed 8 percent
to $15.86 in premarket trading on Friday, a day after it
reinstated its dividend and said it expects its third-quarter
revenue and margins to come in at the higher end of its
previous guidance. [ID:nL3E7F73QV]

Stocks closed slightly lower on Thursday on concerns about
the impact of Japan’s earthquake, though a drop in initial
jobless claims and some strong retail sales data prevented
further losses.

(Editing by Kenneth Barry)

US STOCKS-Futures point to higher open, but volume seen low