RTTNews - US stocks were looking to finish a choppy week on a high note Friday morning in New York, but early signals are mixed ahead of a slew of economic data, including reports on inflation and manufacturing.

As of 6:15 am ET, stock futures were indicated slightly higher across the board. The S&P Futures were up 2 points, the Nasdaq Futures were up a point, and the Dow Futures were up 20 points.

After seeing substantial weakness in the previous session, stocks regained some ground during trading on Thursday. The Dow closed up 46.43 points or 0.6 percent at 8,331.32, the Nasdaq closed up 25.02 points or 1.5 percent at 1,689.21 and the S&P 500 closed up 9.15 points or 1 percent at 893.07.

The markets shrugged off a report from the Labor Department showing a bigger than expected increase in first-time claims for unemployment benefits in the week ended May 9th.

Friday morning, the Labor Department will release its report on consumer price inflation in the month of April. Economists expect consumer prices to come in unchanged after edging down 0.1 percent in March.

Trading could also be impacted by the release of reports on industrial production, consumer sentiment, and regional manufacturing activity.

Retail earnings are also likely to be in focus. JC Penney (JCP) and Abercrombie & Fitch (ANF) are among the companies due to release their results before the start of trading on Friday.

For JC Penney, analysts projecting earnings of $0.10 per share, on revenue of $3.88 billion for the quarter. In the year-ago quarter, the retailer earned $120 million or $0.54 per share, on sales of $4.13 billion, with 7.4% drop in comparable store sales.

Fashion specialty retailer Nordstrom Inc. (JWN) said Thursday after the close that first quarter profit declined from last year amid difficult economic conditions. However, the company's quarterly earnings per share exceeded the analysts' expectations.

Insurer and financial services provider Hartford Financial Services Group, Inc. (HIG) announced Thursday that it received preliminary approval for a $3.4 billion participation in the Treasury's Troubled Assets Relief Program Capital Purchase Program, or TARP. Lincoln National Corp. (LNC) also revealed that it received approval for a $2.5 billion participation in TARP.

Reports indicated that the government has also agreed to provide funds to Prudential Financial, Inc. (PRU), Principal Financial Group, Inc. (PFG), Allstate Corp. (ALL), and Ameriprise Financial, Inc. (AMP).

Athletic-shoe maker Nike, Inc. (NKE) said that it will eliminate about 1,750 jobs or 5% of its 35- thousand strong global workforce, as part of the company's realignment initiative to boost competitiveness.

Asia stocks rallied Friday, bolstered by speculation that the Bank of Japan will upgrade its economic outlook. Tokyo's Nikkei added 1.9 percent, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng picked up 1.5 percent. European shares were barely changed in early dealing.

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