* Priceline and Hewlett-Packard both top expectations
* Groupon tumbles in premarket after forecasting loss
* Existing home sales data on tap, seen down 4.3 pct
* Futures up: Dow 36 pts, S&P 3.4 pts, Nasdaq 6.75
By Ryan Vlastelica
NEW YORK, Feb 21 U.S. stock index futures rose
on Friday, indicating that a rally that lifted the S&P 500 close
to record levels in the previous session could continue,
following some strong results from technology companies.
* Market participants are looking ahead to data on January
existing home sales, due at 10:00 a.m. EST (1500 GMT), which
will give the latest glimpse into how the economy is faring as
the U.S. Federal Reserve dials back its stimulus. Sales are seen
falling 4.3 percent.
* Recent economic data has been mixed, with many metrics -
including housing starts on Wednesday - indicating softness,
though analysts have largely shrugged that off, pinning the
weakness to frigid weather rather than softening fundamentals.
Thursday's rally was partially fueled by a bullish read on
factory activity, which seemed to support that view.
* Tech shares will be in focus a day after both Hewlett
Packard Co and Priceline.com Inc reported
results that topped expectations. Computer maker HP also raised
its 2014 profit view, sending shares up 1.5 percent to $30.63 in
* Traders continued to watch the political situation in
Ukraine, with EU mediators expecting an agreement between
Ukraine's pro-European opposition and Russian-backed President
Viktor Yanukovich, though the former was seeking last-minute
changes to the deal. Geopolitical concerns may increase next
week, where there will be few U.S. earnings and data releases to
otherwise drive trading.
* S&P 500 futures rose 3.4 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 36
points and Nasdaq 100 futures rose 6.75 points.
* For the week, the Dow is down 0.1 percent, the S&P 500 is
up less than 0.1 percent and the Nasdaq is up 0.6 percent. All
three indexes are gunning for their third straight weekly gain.
* In company news, Groupon Inc slumped 14 percent
to $8.80 in premarket trading a day after unexpectedly
forecasting a quarterly loss, even as it reported revenue that
was ahead of expectations.
* Pharmacy benefit manager Express Scripts Holding Co
late Thursday forecast 2014 earnings in line with Wall
Street expectations and said it expects long-term earnings
growth of up to 20 percent per year.
* Tesla Motors Inc Chief Executive Elon Musk told
Bloomberg TV that the company has had "conversations" with Apple
Inc, responding to speculation that the iPhone and iPad
maker had shown interest in the electric car company. Musk
declined to describe the talks, though he said it was "very
unlikely" that Tesla would be bought by any company.