US STOCKS-Futures drift higher as risk appetite increases
* Futures up: Dow 46 pts, S&P 5.5 pts, Nasdaq 9.25 pts
By Abhiram Nandakumar
March 18 (Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures were higher on Friday, a day after the Dow Jones industrial average turned positive for the year, as investors took to riskier assets.
* Global shares rose and the dollar weakened as the U.S. Federal Reserve's tempered position on interest rate hikes continued to improve sentiment.
* Crude oil dipped slightly as traders booked profits from a rally this week, but remained near 2016 highs on hopes that major oil producers would reach a deal to freeze output.
* Wall Street drifted higher on Thursday, bringing the S&P 500 within shouting distance of a gain for 2016, as energy and materials stocks rose. The Dow closed up 0.324 percent for 2016.
* With the Fed being cautious over rate hikes, investors will now keep a close eye on global economic and financial market conditions to gauge the impact of overseas weakness on U.S. economy and earnings growth.
* U.S. data on Friday includes a preliminary reading of the University of Michigan's consumer sentiment index, which is expected at 92.2 for March, improving from a final reading of 91.7 last month. The report is due at 10 a.m. ET (1400 GMT).
* U.S. stock index futures also got a boost from contracts set to expire on Friday. Continuación...