Stock index futures pointed to a mixed open on Wall Street on Friday, with futures for the S&P 500 up 0.4 percent, Dow Jones futures down 0.01 percent and Nasdaq 100 futures up 0.01 percent.
Investors awaited U.S. monthly retail sales, as well as the Reuters/University of Michigan consumer sentiment index for March. Economists in a Reuters survey expect a 0.2 percent decline in sales compared with a 0.5 percent increase in January. Excluding automobiles, sales are seen up 0.1 percent compared with a 0.6 percent rise the prior month.
National Semiconductor Corp
U.S. teen retailer Aeropostale Inc
Chemical stocks will be in the spotlight after the world's largest fertilizer maker Potash Corp of Saskatchewan
Canadian fertilizer maker Agrium Inc
Japan's Nikkei average reached its highest close in seven weeks on Friday, as exporters got a boost from speculation that the yen may weaken if the Bank of Japan takes additional steps to ease monetary policy next week, while European stocks inched higher in early trade, led by banks such as Royal Bank of Scotland
The S&P 500 hit a 17-month closing high on Thursday as rising bank shares led a late rally that lifted U.S. stocks, eclipsing concerns China may move to cool its overheating economy. Financial stocks added to recent sharp gains, helped in part by the possibility new banking regulations being studied by U.S. Congress could be watered down.
The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> gained 44.51 points, or 0.42 percent, to 10,611.84. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX> rose 4.63 points, or 0.40 percent, to close at 1,150.24. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> added 9.51 points, or 0.40 percent, to 2,368.46.
(Reporting by Blaise Robinson; Editing by Hans Peters)