NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Stock futures were pointing to stronger open Friday, helped by strength across Europe and news that U.S. retail sales grew in July. Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average were up by 88 points, or 63 points above fair value, at 11,172. Futures for the S&P 500 were higher by 11 points, or 9 points above fair value, at 1179, and Nasdaq futures were ahead by 15 points, or 8 points above fair value. Stocks surged Thursday, with the Dow retracing much of its recent decline as strength across the tech sector and a surprise decline in initial jobless claims gave markets some relief from European contagion concerns. European markets were rallying after European regulators imposed temporary bans on short-selling financial shares. The decision to prevent traders from betting on a stock's decline came after rumors about the instability of French banks spurred steep selloffs across global markets. The FTSE in London was gaining 2.2%, the DAX in Frankfurt was surging 2.9%, and the CAC-40 in Paris was trading 2.5% higher. In Asia, Hong Kong's Hang Seng closed 0.1% higher while Japan's Nikkei shed 0.2%.
In the first of two consumer reports due out on Friday, the Census Bureau said retail sales rose 0.5% in July, meeting economists' expectations, after rising 0.3% in June. Excluding autos, sales still showed a 0.5% increase, which exceeded forecasts for a rise of 0.2%. In June, retail sales, excluding autos, advanced 1%. At 9:55 a.m., the University of Michigan will release its read on August consumer sentiment. The report will likely garner a lot of market attention since it has been such a volatile month for the stock market. Economists expect sentiment to dip to 62.5 in August, compared with July's reading of 63.7.
The Census Bureau will report on June business inventories at 10 a.m. The market is anticipating a rise of 0.5% after growth of 1% in May. The Securities and Exchange Commission took a preliminary look into potential insider trading by asking Standard & Poor's to disclose who at the ratings agency knew of its decision to downgrade U.S. debt before it was announced last Friday, according to a Financial Times report. In corporate news, AT&T ( T) hired Bank of America ( BAC) to advise it on asset sales as it seeks government approval of its planned acquisition of T-Mobile USA, according to a Wall Street Journal report. AT&T's stock was up 0.6% to $28.60 in premarket trading. Shares of Nvidia ( NVDA) were surging 10.7% to $14.84 ahead of Friday's opening bell after the chipmaker reported strong second-quarter results and issued encouraging guidance. J.C. Penney ( JCP) easily topped analysts' calls for earnings of 6 cents a share with an adjusted second-quarter profit of 13 cents a share while sales of $3.9 billion largely met expectations. The company guided for third-quarter earnings of 15 to 20 cents a share , which includes restructuring charges of roughly 5 cents a share. Wall Street has been forecasting a third-quarter profit of 25 cents a share, which excludes one-time items. Shares were losing 2.8% to $26.09 in early trading The benchmark 10-year Treasury was rising 18/32, diluting the yield to 2.285%. The dollar weakened against a basket of currencies, with the dollar index down by 0.04%. . Gold prices were climbing again despite the Chicago Mercantile Exchange's recent decision to hike gold margin requirements. Gold for December delivery was up by $6.30 at $1,757.80 an ounce. Oil prices were rising with the September crude oil contract up by 45 cents to trade at $86.17 a barrel. -- Written by Melinda Peer in New York.