Stock Futures Rise Marginally; Salesforce Charges Ahead

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- S&P 500 futures were trading just incrementally higher Friday and pointing to a third day of gains heading into the Labor Day weekend in the U.S. as investor concerns about a U.S.-led air strike on Syria moved to the backburner. The market typically drifts higher on light volumes ahead of a long weekend.

Still, futures were sharply cutting gains following a tepid gauge of consumer activity in the U.S.

British lawmakers on Thursday night voted to reject any motion that would pave the way for British participation in military actions against the Assad regime in Syria following reports of government-initiated chemical attacks in the country's suburbs. The U.K. would have been a key ally supporting the U.S. in any such action.

Futures for the S&P 500 were rising 0.5 points, or 0.98 points above fair value, to 1,637.25. Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average were down 4 points, or 5.05 points above fair value, to 14,830. Futures for the Nasdaq were up 3.5 points, or 0.54 points above fair value, to 3,093.

Friday marks the last trading session of the month. Major U.S. stock indices looked to have logged their worst performance in August in more than a year, weighed down by concerns about potential Federal Reserve tapering in September, the U.S. fiscal budget negotiations coming up in the fall, and worries about any devastating global impact that could arise from an attack on Syria.

U.S. stocks showed modest gains Thursday on stronger-than-expected U.S. economic growth combined with a drop in jobless claims while fears of an imminent U.S. military intervention against Syria appeared to be easing after President Barack Obama indicated that he has not yet arrived at any firm decision to act.

Salesforce.com ( CRM) shares were surging 9% to $47.58 in premarket trading Friday after the cloud computing company posted fiscal second-quarter earnings on Thursday that topped Wall Street expectations as revenue jumped 31%. Salesforce.com also provided guidance for the year above analysts' views.

Salesforce.com's adjusted earnings for the quarter were 9 cents a share; analysts were looking for 7 cents a share. Revenue in the period was $957.1 million, up from $731.6 million a year earlier. Analysts were expecting revenue of $937.8 million.

Apache ( APA) was gaining 7.07% to $84.20 after saying Friday it would sell a 33% stake in its Egypt operation to China's Sinopec for $3.1 billion. Apache said the sale is a first step in forming a global partnership to pursue oil and gas projects.

General Electric ( GE) shares were rising 1.9% to $23.55 as the conglomerate prepares to spin off GE Capital, its retail lending and credit-card business, in an initial public offering that could come early next year, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter. Preliminary work to separate the business through an IPO is under way, the people told the newspaper.

Big Lots ( BIG) was gaining 4.62% to $36.24 even after reducing its full-year guidance on tepid sales after the discount retailer beat second-quarter earnings expectations by seven cents at 31 cents a share.

The Bureau of Economic Analysis' consumer spending gauge for July increased by a less-than-expected 0.1%, down from an upwardly revised 0.6% in June. The personal income measure rose by a smaller-than-expected 0.1% as well, below the increase of 0.3% from the prior month. Economists, on average, were expecting personal income to rise 0.2% and personal spending to edge up 0.3%.

St. Louis Fed Bank President James Bullard is scheduled to speak about the economy and monetary policy in Memphis, Tenn. Starting at 9 a.m.

At 9:45 a.m., the Chicago Purchasing Managers Index reflecting business conditions in the Chicago area is expected to show an uptick to 53 in August from 52.3 in July.

The final estimate on the University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index is predicted to be 80.5, up from 80 in the preliminary August report. The release will be published at 9:55 a.m.

The DAX in Germany was declining 0.5% and the FTSE 100 was slipping 0.41%. The Hong Kong Hang Seng closed up by 0.12% and the Nikkei 225 in Japan fell 0.53%.

The benchmark 10-year Treasury was down 2/32, pushing the yield to 2.77%. The dollar was up 0.05% to $81.99 according to the U.S. dollar index.

October crude oil futures were falling by 86 cents to $107.94 a barrel. December gold contracts were off $18.40 to $1,394.50 an ounce.

-- Written by Andrea Tse in New York

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