* China, German data positive
* U.S. trade deficit shrinks
* LinkedIn surges after earnings, outlook
* Futures up: Dow 6 pts, S&P 1.8 pts, Nasdaq 9.5 pts
By Chuck Mikolajczak
NEW YORK, Feb 8 (Reuters) - U.S. stock index were set for a
slightly higher open on Friday after a trio of positive economic
data points, but gains were expected to be modest, with the
benchmark S&P index near five-year highs.
Data showed Chinese exports grew more than expected in
January, while imports climbed 28.8 percent, highlighting robust
domestic demand, while German data showed a 2012 surplus that
was the nation's second highest in more than 60 years, an
indication of the underlying strength of Europe's biggest
Another positive sign was U.S. economic data which showed
the trade deficit shrank in December to $38.5 billion, its
narrowest in nearly three years, indicating the economy did much
better in the fourth quarter than initially estimated.
Comments from European Central Bank President Mario Draghi
about the strength of the euro Thursday renewed concern about
the euro zone economy and sent U.S. equities lower.
Wholesale inventories data for December is due at 10:00 a.m.
(1500 GMT); inventories are expected to be up 0.4 percent versus
a 0.6 percent increase in November.
The S&P 500 has risen for five straight weeks and is
up 5.8 percent for the year. Its advance was helped by
legislators in Washington averting a series of automatic
spending cuts and tax hikes earlier in the year, as well as
better-than-expected corporate earnings and data that pointed to
modest economic improvement but no immediate change in the
Federal Reserve's stimulus plans.
The index, hovering near five-year highs, has found it
tougher to climb in recent days as investors await strong
trading incentives to drive it further upward.
"The market has made a big run, a lot of this was
anticipated and so now investors are saying, 'Now what? What do
we do for an encore?'" said Terry Morris, senior equity manager
for National Penn Investors Trust Company in Reading,
"It has made a big run and it is deserving of rest, in fact
it would probably be healthy if we had a little bit of a
S&P 500 futures added 1.8 points and were slightly
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
6 points, and Nasdaq 100 futures rose 9.5 points.
McDonald's Corp said January sales at established
hamburger restaurants around the world fell 1.9 percent, a
steeper decline than analysts expected. Shares edged down 0.5
percent to $94.18 in premarket.
LinkedIn Corp jumped 10.6 percent to $137.28 in
premarket trading after announcing both blow-out quarterly
profits and a bullish forecast for the new year that exceeded
Wall Street's already lofty expectations.
According to Thomson Reuters data through Thursday morning,
of 317 companies in the S&P 500 that have reported earnings, 69
percent have exceeded analysts' expectations, above a 62 percent
average since 1994 and 65 percent over the past four quarters.
Fourth-quarter earnings for S&P 500 companies grew 5
percent, according to the data, above a 1.9 percent forecast at
the start of the earnings season.
U.S.-listed shares of Oncolytics Biotech Inc surged
44 percent to $5.14 in premarket trading after the company said
a mid-stage trial of its experimental lung cancer drug showed 95
percent of the patients experienced a reduction in the size of