U.S. Stock Futures Hold Gains after of Retail Sales

U.S. stock futures largely held Friday gains after retail-sales data proved mixed, with August coming in just short of expectations, but the prior two months revised higher.

U.S. retail sales gained 0.2% last month, smaller than the 0.5% rise expected by economists surveyed by MarketWatch. But the slower pace was offset by faster gains in June and July.

Separately, U.S. wholesale prices jumped 0.3% in August, while stripped of food and energy costs, core prices were unchanged.

Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average DJZ3 -0.12%  were up 21 points at 15,267 and those for the S&P 500 index SPZ3 +0.04%  were up less than a point to 1,678.70. Futures for the Nasdaq 100 index NDZ3 +0.09%  inched up 2.75 points to 3,172.25.

“With the Federal Reserve meeting next week to discuss potential reductions to monthly bond purchases, and with developments in Syria moving along at a snail’s pace, it is understandable that investors are tempted to hold fire for the next week or so,” said Max Cohen, financial sales trader at Spreadex, in a note.

U.S. stocks closed lower on Thursday as investors worried about developments related to Syria and Federal Reserve policy moves.

Market participants considered Friday’s data to help gauge if the Federal Reserve will begin tapering its $85-billion-a-month in asset purchases after its meeting next week. The central bank has stressed it is looking to macroeconomic data to determine when to scale back its easing program and after a string of relatively upbeat releases, analysts speculate the tapering process could start as early as September.

At 9:55 a.m. Eastern, the University of Michigan will release its consumer-sentiment index, which economists say could fall to 81.5 from 82.1.

In other Fed-related news, the White House denied a report by Japanese newspaper Nikkei that said President Barack Obama plans to name former U.S. Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers as the next chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve board of governors possibly as soon as next week.

In corporate news, Ulta Salon Cosmetics & Fragrance Inc. ULTA +13.33%  said late Thursday its second-quarter earnings rose to 70 cents a share from 54 cents a share in the same period a year ago.

Analogic Corp. ALOG +2.53%  shares gained in after-hours action on Thursday, rising about 3%, after the medical- and security-imaging company said adjusted quarterly earnings rose 16% to $1.53 a share.

Shares of Intel Corp. INTC +1.99%  gained 2% in premarket trade after Jefferies upgraded the company’s rating to buy from hold.

European stocks traded lower, while Asia markets closed mixed. Both gold and oil were under selling pressure.

Source: MarketWatch