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Stock index futures signal flat Wall Street open

Stock index futures pointed to a flat open for equities on Friday, with futures for the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq 100 staying almost unchanged.

Apple's new iPad proved to be another hot-seller on Friday, with hundreds queuing at stores across Asia to be the first to get their hands on the 4G-ready tablet computer as the company's share price hit $600 for the first time.

Several banks including Goldman Sachs have shown an interest in buying American International Group Inc's complex and troubled assets tied to the insurer's bailout, the Wall Street Journal said, citing people familiar with the matter.

The Labor Department releases at 1230 GMT the February Consumer Price Index (CPI). Economists expect a 0.4 percent rise, compared with a 0.2 percent increase in January. Excluding volatile food and energy items, CPI is expected to rise 0.2 percent, a repeat of the January increase.

The Labor Department issues at 1230 GMT Real Earnings for February. Economists expect a 0.2 percent drop, versus an unchanged reading in January.

United Parcel Service said it was in constructive talks to buy Dutch rival TNT Express and reiterated its intention to make an offer, having last month proposed a 9 euros per share deal worth 4.9 billion euros ($6.4 billion).

Bayer AG has made a non-binding offer for the animal health business of Pfizer Inc , even though it believes a spin-off is more likely, a German paper reported in an article to be published in its Friday edition.

Cisco Systems made its first major acquisition in over two years with a deal to buy NDS, which develops pay TV software, for $5 billion, aiming to boost its presence in the video communications market.

The Federal Reserve releases at 1315 GMT industrial production and capacity utilization data for February. Economists expect a 0.4 percent rise in production and a capacity utilization reading of 78.8 percent. In the January report, production was flat, and capacity utilization was 78.5 percent.

Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan Surveys of Consumers release at 1355 GMT preliminary March consumer sentiment index. Economists expect a reading of 76.0 in the preliminary March report, compared with 75.3 in the final February report.

At 1430 GMT, Economic Cycle Research Institute releases its weekly index of economic activity for March 9. In the prior week, the index read 124.3.

Britain is poised to cooperate with the United States on a release of strategic oil stocks that is expected within months, two British sources said, in a bid to prevent fuel prices choking economic growth in a U.S. election year.

GlaxoSmithKline and rivals including Pfizer are preparing second-round bids for Turkey's Mustafa Nevzat Ilac Sanayi, a maker of injectable generic drugs, that may be worth some $800 million, four people familiar with the process said.

The pan-European FTSE Eurofirst 300 <.FTEU3> index added 0.3 percent after its strongest since July 2011 on Wednesday.

The S&P 500 <.SPX> closed above 1,400 for the first time since the 2008 financial crisis on Thursday as stocks resumed the upward climb that has produced a steady stream of gains this year.

The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> rose 58.66 points, or 0.44 percent, to 13,252.76, closing out a seventh straight day of gains. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index advanced 8.32 points, or 0.60 percent, to 1,402.60 at the close. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> gained 15.64 points, or 0.51 percent, to 3,056.37.

(Reporting by Atul Prakash; Editing by Elaine Hardcastle)

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