RTTNews - Following three days of gains, stocks could see some further upside in early trading on Friday, as traders await key data on the housing market and any additional economic indicators from Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, who is set to deliver a keynote speech this morning. The major index futures are currently all in positive territory, with the Dow futures up by 46 points.
On the economic front, traders will focus on data from the National Association of Realtors on existing home sales in July, with the report set to be released at 10:00 a.m. ET. Economists expect the annual rate of existing home sales to edge up to 5.0 million in July from 4.89 million in June.
The markets will also look to a speech from Fed Chairman Bernanke on the Year of Crisis at the Kansas City Fed's annual Jackson Hole conference. The Fed Chief is expected to begin his speech at about 10:00 a.m. ET.
Quarterly earnings results are also on the radar this morning, with apparel retailer Gap Inc. (GPS) reporting second quarter net income of $0.33 per share compared to $0.32 per share in the year-ago quarter. Net sales decreased to $3.25 billion from $3.50 billion in the prior-year quarter. Wall Street analysts expected the company to earn $0.32 per share on revenues of $3.23 billion.
Ann Taylor Stores (ANN) reported adjusted second-quarter net income of $0.06 per share along with net sales of $470.23 million, while analysts forecast earnings of $0.03 per share on sales of $472.21 million.
Jelly maker J. M. Smucker Company (SJM) reported first-quarter net income of $0.83 per share, while net sales came in at $1.05 billion. Analysts expected the firm to earn $0.80 per share on revenues of $1.04 billion.
Stocks saw strong gains on Thursday, helped by some upbeat news from the manufacturing sector that helped to offset a disappointing jobs report. The Dow closed up by 71 points at 9,350, the Nasdaq climbed by 20 points to 1,989 and the S&P 500 rose by 11 points to 1,007.
Crude oil futures are rising in early commodities trading, climbing by $1.09 to $74.00 a barrel after moving lower in the previous session. The price of gold is also gaining, advancing by $6.90 to $947.50 an ounce.
On the currency front, the U.S. dollar is sliding versus the major European currencies, falling to a two-week low of $1.4335 against the euro and slipping to $1.6560 versus the pound. The buck is also retreating versus the yen, falling to 93.64 yen.
In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region saw a mixed performance. Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 Index slipped by 1.4 percent, while China's Shanghai Composite rose by 1.7 percent.
Meanwhile, the major European markets are all moving higher, with the German DAX Index and the French CAC 40 Index rising by 1.6 percent and 1.7 percent, respectively, while the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index is up by 1.1 percent.
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