* GE climbs in premarket after quarterly results
* UMich data on tap
* Futures up: Dow 162 pts, S&P 22.5 pts, Nasdaq 54.25 pts (Adds data, Yellen statement, updates prices)
By Chuck Mikolajczak
NEW YORK, Oct 17 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks were set for a higher open on Friday following a batch of solid earnings reports and on hopes the Federal Reserve might slow the wind-down of its stimulus in light of recent weakness in global demand.
The benchmark S&P index is on track for its fourth straight weekly decline, its longest streak in more than three years, and is down more than 7 percent from its record high as concerns about the health of the global economy and possible spread of the Ebola virus have prompted investor selling.
Investors were looking toward corporate earnings to offset concerns about a slowdown in the global economy. General Electric shares rose 2.9 percent to $24.95 and was the most actively traded stock on the New York Stock Exchange in premarket trading after the company reported third-quarter earnings that topped analyst expectations.
“It seemed like it was almost a perfect storm of factors that led to this recent selloff,” said David Lebovitz, global market strategist at J.P. Morgan Funds in New York.
“With earnings season beginning to ramp up, it is important to focus on the earnings picture because if the fundamentals continue to support equity prices - we continue to see earnings growth - that means equity prices should move higher.”
The S&P 500 and Nasdaq eked out slight gains on Thursday after another choppy session as economic data eased fears about the potential effect of a weakening global economy on the United States and remarks by St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank President James Bullard that the U.S. central bank may want to keep up its bond buying stimulus for now.
The central bank had been widely expected to end its massive monthly bond-buying program this month.
In a speech early Friday, Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen said the growth of income and wealth inequality caused her great concern. She did not comment on recent market volatility or on monetary policy.
U.S. housing starts and permits rose in September, as groundbreaking rose 6.3 percent to an annual 1.02 million-unit pace. The preliminary Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan reading on consumer sentiment is due at 9:55 a.m. (1355 GMT).
Morgan Stanley rose advanced 3.6 percent to $33.71 before the opening bell after posting an 87 percent rise in third-quarter earnings.
Honeywell shares gained 3.3 percent to $89.21 before the opening bell after the maker of aircraft cockpit parts and other electronic equipment reported its quarterly results.
S&P 500 e-mini futures were up 22.5 points and fair value, a formula that evaluates pricing by taking into account interest rates, dividends and time to expiration on the contract, indicated a higher open. Dow Jones industrial average e-mini futures rose 162 points and Nasdaq 100 e-mini futures added 54.25 points.
Urban Outfitters shares slumped 13.5 percent to $29.90 after the retailer said its negative third-quarter comparable sales pace has continued. Volume of nearly 180,00 share represented over 7 percent of its 10-day average.
The earnings of S&P 500 companies are expected to grow 6.9 percent in the third quarter, according to Thomson Reuters data through Thursday, on revenue growth of 4.1 percent.
Editing by Bernadette Baum