U.S. stocks were treading water before the open Thursday as investors geared up for monthly chain-store sales and another session full of economic data.

S&P 500

futures were up 0.3 points to 1305.40, but were still a little more than half a point below fair value. The Nasdaq 100 futures were higher by a quarter-point at 1584.75, roughly in line with fair value.

With August coming to a close, the nation's retailers are reporting their same-store and total sales for the past month. Among those already releasing their results were

Pier 1

(PIR) - Get Report

, whose comparable sales dropped 9.1%.

Claire's Stores

( CLE) said comp revenue advanced 1%.

Sharper Image

( SHRP) said its August same-store sales slid 22%, and at


(JWN) - Get Report

same-store sales rose 7.1%.

A big merger was set to take place in the mining sector, where Canada's



said it will pay $8.6 billion in stock for Nevada's

Glamis Gold

(GLG) - Get Report

. Goldcorp will own 60% of the combined company. Gold prices were up $4.60 to $630.70 an ounce.

Energy prices were also higher as the deadline arrived for Iran to respond to a United Nations demand that it halt uranium enrichment. Tehran's leaders again indicated they have no plans to suspend their nuclear program.

Crude for October delivery rose 69 cents to $70.72 a barrel, and gasoline climbed 2 cents to $1.82 a gallon.

Overseas, the European Central Bank left its benchmark lending rate unchanged at 3%.

To view Farnoosh Torabi's video take on today's market, click here