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Stock futures edge higher ahead of consumer data

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[June 11, 2010]  NEW YORK (AP) -- Stock futures edged higher Friday as investors make modest bets that another round of economic reports will show continued domestic growth.

Movements could be tempered because stocks surged a day earlier. Stocks have been unable to muster a prolonged run of gains in recent weeks as volatility has returned to the market.

The Dow Jones industrial climbed 279 points Thursday on after reports showed the global economy is healing, despite persistent worries that Europe's sovereign debt crisis would curtail any recovery.

Economists expect reports Friday will show retail sales rose modestly in May while business inventories climbed in April. A third report is expected to show consumer sentiment is improving as Americans gain confidence that the economy is strengthening.


The Commerce Department is expected to report retail sales rose 0.2 percent in May, according to economists polled by Thomson Reuters. While it would be another slow month of growth, it still shows sales are climbing. A jump in sales is vital to a sustained recovery because consumer spending is a primary driver of economic growth. The report is due out at 8:30 a.m. EDT.

As sales continue to rise, retailers have to buy more goods to restock shelves. Businesses also add to inventories as they gain confidence about the economy and when they expect sales to pick up.

Indeed, the Commerce Department is also expected to say business inventories rose in April. Economists predict inventories on store shelves rose 0.5 percent in April after climbing 0.4 percent in March. The report is due out at 10 a.m. EDT.

Economists also predict sentiment among consumers is growing, even though unemployment remains high. A preliminary reading of the Reuters/University of Michigan consumer sentiment index for May likely rose to 74.5 from 73.6.

Ahead of the opening bell, Dow Jones industrial average futures rose 19, or 0.2 percent, to 10,106. Standard & Poor's 500 index futures rose 2.00, or 0.2 percent, to 1,081.50, while Nasdaq 100 index futures rose 2.75, or 0.2 percent, to 1,823.75.

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Stocks skyrocketed Thursday after China said imports rose sharply in May and the U.S. government reported people applying for jobless benefits dropped last week. All major indexes rose more than 2.5 percent.

Thursday's surge fit into a recent trend of extreme volatility where triple-digit Dow moves have become normal. During that run, the Dow has been down more than it has been up as investors worry about whether debt problems and steep government spending cuts in countries like Greece, Spain, Portugal and Hungary will slow down Europe's economy so much that it spreads around the globe.

The euro has become the primary indicator of confidence in Europe. The currency, which is used by 16 countries, rose slightly Friday. It edged up to $1.2128.

U.S. Treasury prices rose after a big drop a day ago. The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note, which moves opposite its price, fell to 3.30 percent from 3.33 percent late Thursday.

Overseas, Britain's FTSE 100 rose 0.9 percent, Germany's DAX index gained 0.3 percent, and France's CAC-40 rose 0.7 percent. Japan's Nikkei stock average rose 1.7 percent.

[Associated Press; By STEPHEN BERNARD]

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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