The US bourse is set to open higher as European leaders get ready to meet.

New York - US S&P 500 stock index futures inched higher on Friday, indicating the index may hold its ground after its biggest decline since early February, ahead of data on inflation and consumer confidence.

* Equities tumbled on Thursday on rising concerns over Ukraine and Russia and new signs of an economic slowdown in China.

* US Secretary of State John Kerry will seek assurances from Russia on Friday that it will not seek to annex Crimea and will address concerns over Ukraine through negotiation, a senior State Department official said before talks in London.

* Kerry's meeting is an attempt to defuse tension between Moscow and the West ahead of a referendum, which looks set to proceed on Sunday, that will decide whether Crimea will become part of Russia, a Russian-majority region of Ukraine.

* Russia's navy said fighter jets had started training exercises over the Mediterranean Sea, an announcement that is likely to raise tensions in the standoff with Ukraine over the future of Crimea.

* Data expected on Friday includes the producer price index reading for February at 8:30 a.m. (14:30 SA time) and the preliminary Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan Surveys of Consumers for March at 9:55 a.m. (15:55 SA time).

PPI for final demand is expected to show an increase of 0.2 percent, matching January's increase, while the consumer sentiment index is expected to show a reading of 82.

* S&P 500 e-mini futures rose 0.75 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 were down 4 points and Nasdaq 100 futures added 3.25 points.

* General Mills Inc fell 2.8 percent to $49.56 in premarket trade after the food maker provided its third-quarter and full year outlook.

* Aeropostale Inc slumped 14.7 percent before the opening bell after the teen apparel retailer reported its fifth straight quarterly loss.

* European shares fell to five-week lows, with German blue chips among the worst hit, while Asian shares dropped to a one-month low as tensions in Ukraine ahead of a weekend referendum unnerved investors. - Reuters