The S&P 500 barely managed a new record high on Thursday, closing just five points higher with US stock markets encouraged by weaker economic data that likely points to a longer period of near-zero percent interest rates. For US markets to make the next leg higher, which they appear to be itching to do, language from the Federal Reserve needs to match the weaker economic data. For stock bulls, it’s no good having weak economic data if the Fed is still determined to hike rates. US markets are set to open cautiously higher on Friday ahead of a speech from Fed Chair Janet Yellen that could provide that much needed clue (missing from FOMC minutes this week) that the Fed will hold off on a hike until the economy picks up again. Yellen speaks at 6pm BST, so 1pm in New York. Hewlett Packard reported a smaller than expected drop in profits and revenues in the first quarter, setting shares up for a higher open on Friday. HP shares continue to be supported by the company’s large stock buyback program and apparent progress towards its intended split into two companies in November. Gap shares are expected to open flat after the apparel retailer missed profit and revenue expectations, another reflection of the US consumer refusing to come out of their shell. On Friday, earnings are expected from Deere & Company, Foot Locker and Campbell Soup Company. Futures suggest the: S&P 500 will open 1 point higher at 2,131 with the Dow Jones expected to open 4 points higher at 18,289 and the Nasdaq 100 2 points higher at 4,531. CMC Markets is an execution only provider. The material (whether or not it states any opinions) is for general information purposes only, and does not take into account your personal circumstances or objectives. Nothing in this material is (or should be considered to be) financial, investment or other advice on which reliance should be placed. No opinion given in the material constitutes a recommendation by CMC Markets or the author that any particular investment, security, transaction or investment strategy is suitable for any specific person.