Futures Fluctuate; Retail Sales Rise 0.4%

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Stock futures fluctuated ahead of the bell on Tuesday, after retail sales came in better than expected.

Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average were lower by 11 points at 10,461 and were 14 points below fair value. Futures for the S&P 500 were lower by 2 points at 1114 and were 2 points below fair value, and Nasdaq futures were unchanged at 1917 and were 2 points below fair value.

Retail sales for August climbed 0.4%, the Commerce Department said early Tuesday. That was higher than the 0.3% analysts were expecting, boosting investor sentiment.

At 10 a.m. EDT, the Commerce Department is expected to say that business inventories climbed 0.7%, according to consensus estimates from Briefing.com. Changes in business inventories are used by economists to get a reading on industrial production data, which also will be released later this week.
Shopping

Stocks surged for the fourth consecutive session on Monday after international regulators agreed to raise capital standards for banks, putting an end to the uncertainty surrounding new regulations. Positive economic data from China and more deal-making activity also added to the bullish sentiment.

European markets were trading mixed on Tuesday. The industrial production of the 16 nations that use the euro as a currency was flat in August, lower than the 0.2% increase predicted, acting as further confirmation that growth in the region was slowing. Investor confidence in Germany sunk to a 19-month low of minus 4.3 in September, much below the forecast of 10, according to the ZEW Center for Economic Research. The FTSE in U.K. and the Dax in Germany were trading marginally lower Tuesday.

Asian markets ended on mixed note on Tuesday. Japan's Nikkei finished 0.2% lower as investors awaited the results of Japan's elections. Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan survived a challenged to his leadership and was re-elected president of the ruling Democratic party on Tuesday. The results came after market hours. Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index rose 0.2%.

A few more earnings rolled in ahead of the opening bell Tuesday. Best Buy ( BBY) reported a 62% increase in second-quarter per-share earnings to 60 cents, above the 46 cents analysts were expecting. It also raised its fiscal-year outlook by 10 cents to $3.55 to $3.70 a share.

Kroger ( KR) said its profit rose 2.8% to $261.6 million, or 41 cents a share. Revenue grew 6% to $18.79 billion. Analysts were expecting earnings of 36 cents a share on revenue of $18.73 billion.

Office Max ( OMX) said at a Goldman Sachs Global Retailing Conference that it expects higher margin rates compared with a year earlier because of favorable settlements of tax issues.

In other corporate news American International Group ( AIG) is in talks with the U.S. government to speed up an exit plan designed to repay U.S. taxpayers, the Wall Street Journal reports.

MedAssets ( MDAS) has agreed to buy health care supply chain management provider Broadlane Group for $850 million in cash.

Bank of America ( BAC) may look to sell billions of dollars worth of assets, the Financial Times reports.

In commodity markets, crude oil for October delivery was losing 27 cents, to trade at $76.92 a barrel. The December gold contract jumped $14.5, to trade at $1,261 an ounce.

The benchmark 10-year Treasury note was up by 13/32, diluting the yield to 2.701%.

Meanwhile, the dollar was trading flat against a basket of currencies, with the dollar index up by 0.02%. The Yen touched a 15-year high against the dollar.

--Written by Shanthi Venkataraman in New York.

Disclosure: TheStreet's editorial policy prohibits staff editors and reporters from holding positions in any individual stocks.

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