Stock Futures Rise on Retail Sales Data


NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- U.S. stock futures were rising after February domestic retail sales gained the most since last September.

Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average were up 59 points, or 71 points above fair value, at 12,956. Futures for the S&P 500 were up 7 points, or 9 points above fair value, at 1373. Futures for the Nasdaq were up 13 points, or 18 points below fair value, at 2660.

Retail sales data released by the Commerce Department rose 1.1% in February, in line with economist expectations. The latest rise suggests that consumer demand is up despite rising gas prices. In January, retail sales jumped 0.6%. Sales excluding auto sales rose 1.1% in February adding to a 0.6% gain in January.

At 10 a.m., business inventories, also from the Commerce Department, are expected to rise 0.5% for January, adding to a 0.4% gain in the prior month.

Later in the day, investors will be turning their attention to the Federal Reserve's decision on monetary action following its Federal Open Market Committee meeting. Interest rates are expected to remain low and the Fed is not expected to announce any sort of quantitative easing, despite speculation that the bank is considering a "sterilized" form of bond buying that could contain inflation.

Given that markets already sold off strongly last Tuesday when the Federal Reserve didn't hint at quantitative easing, some market watchers say investors are unlikely to be surprised if the central bank once again takes a wait-and-see approach.

"In January, the FOMC declared that 'the economy has been expanding moderately' -- if that language is downgraded, it would be a dovish sign," wrote economists at Bank of America Merrill Lynch.

Germany's DAX was up 1.1% while London's FTSE was up 0.89% on Tuesday. Hong Kong's Hang Seng closed up 1% while the Nikkei Average in Japan gained 0.1% overnight.


On Monday, blue chip and S&P 500 stocks extended their win streak to four straight trading sessions amid the lightest trading volumes of the year on the New York Stock Exchange and Nasdaq.

In corporate news, automotive replacement tires company TBC said it would buy auto services provider Midas ( MDS) for $11.50 a share, or about $310 million in cash. Midas shares were surging 27.3% to $11.44 in premarket trading Tuesday.

Urban Outfitters ( URBN) reported a 9% rise in fourth-quarter net sales to $731 million. Earnings for the quarter were $39.3 million, or 27 cents a share. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters, on average, were expecting earnings per share of 29 cents on revenue of $741.35 million. Shares were off 6% to $27.75.

Pharmacy benefits managers Express Scripts ( ESRX) and Medco Health ( MHS) will hold off on completing their $29 billion deal, providing antitrust regulators with more time to finish evaluating the deal, Medco said in a a Securities and Exchange Commission filing. Medco shares were rising 1.7% to $69.51; Express Scripts shares were rising 1.6% to $54.28.

Google and Facebook are set to begin trial in New Delhi on Tuesday to face charges they didn't censor objectionable content from their sites, The Wall Street Journal reported. If convicted, executives from the companies could face jail time and the companies could face fines, lawyers following the case said, the newspaper reported. Google shares were up 0.5% to $608.

Chipmaker Intel ( INTC) is looking into creating an online pay TV service that can be accessed from TV sets, computers and mobile devices, as it looks to get in on the competitive pay-TV business. Intel shares were up 0.5% to $27.13.

Johnson & Johnson ( JNJ) is facing a U.S. government demand to hike its offer by $800 million from an initial proposal to settle a federal civil investigation into marketing of the antipsychotic Risperdal, Bloomberg reported. The stock was up 0.2% to $65.25.

Yahoo! ( YHOO) filed a lawsuit against its partner Facebook, accusing the social networking giant of patent infringement. The lawsuit, filed in federal court in San Jose, details patents related to messaging, social networking, privacy, customization and advertising.

April oil futures were up 43 cents to $106.77. In other commodities, April gold futures were down $5.50 to $1694 an ounce.

The dollar index was 0.17% lower. The benchmark 10-year Treasury was down 3/32 diluting the yield to 2.049%.

-- Written by Chao Deng in New York.

>To contact the writer of this article, click here: Chao Deng.

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