New York: US stock index futures were little changed on Friday, with the benchmark S&P 500 on track for its best weekly performance in a month ahead of data on retail sales and consumer sentiment.
Investors are looking for signals of improving consumer health when the US Commerce Department releases May retail sales, the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan preliminary June consumer sentiment index, and the Commerce Department issues Business Inventories for April.
Economists expect an 0.2% increase in retail sales versus the prior 0.4% rise, a sentiment reading of 74.5 against the prior 73.6, and a 0.5% increase in inventories over the previous 0.4%.
“When we look at what is going on, it’s hard to draw any conclusions other than things are getting very slowly better,” said Barry Ritholtz, director of equity research at Fusion IQ in New York.
“(But) we have to get a little bit cautious about drawing long-term conclusions from short-term seasonal situations.”
S&P 500 futures rose 0.7 point but were slightly below 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 gained 4 points, and Nasdaq 100 futures were up 1.75 points.
The euro, used as a proxy for confidence in the euro zone in recent weeks, gained 0.3% versus the dollar, supported on the back of higher European shares.
US-listed shares of BP Plc climbed 5.4% to $34.54 in premarket as supportive comments from UK officials outweighing reports that the Gulf of Mexico oil spill was much bigger than estimated.
National Semiconductor Corp gained 2.4% to $13.85 in premarket trade after delivering a margin and revenue forecast above estimates, signaling that demand is bouncing back after an horrendous 2009 for the microchip industry.
Dell Inc slipped 1.7% to $12.85 premarket after it said it is in talks with the US Securities and Exchange Commission over an investigation into its accounting practices and relationship with chipmaker Intel Corp. Dell also said it set a $100 million reserve for a potential settlement.
Wendy’s/Arby’s Group Inc Chairman Nelson Peltz said an unnamed party is interested in a potential deal, sending shares up 11.4% to $4.84 in premarket.
US stocks posted their best day in the last nine on Thursday, responding to signs of health in the euro debt market and on a bounce-back for energy shares crushed in the previous day’s sell-off.