RTTNews - Following a modest upward move in the previous session, stocks are looking to open modestly lower on Friday as traders digest data on import and export prices while awaiting a report on consumer sentiment. The major index futures are all in negative territory, with the Dow futures down by 30 points.

A report from the Labor Department said that import prices climbed by 1.3 percent for May, compared to a 1.1 percent increase seen in April. Export prices also rose, climbing by 0.6 percent in May compared to a rise of 1.1 percent seen in the previous month. On a year-to-year basis, import prices fell 17.6 percent while export prices slipped by 6.5 percent.

The report has attracted some attention amid concerns about inflation as the U.S. begins to recover from the recession.

Later this morning, trading is likely to be influenced by the Reuters/University of Michigan's initial reading on consumer sentiment for the month of June. Economists expect the reading to climb to 69.5 compared to May's revised reading of 68.7. The report is due to be released at 9:55 a.m. ET.

On the corporate front, investment management company BlackRock (BLK) said Thursday evening that it has agreed to acquire Barclays Global Investors, the asset management arm of U.K.-based financial services provider Barclays (BCS) for $13.5 billion.

The deal also includes iShares, Barclays' exchange traded fund platform. The cash and stock transaction will create the world's largest asset management firm with total combined assets managed of over $2.7 trillion.

Chipmaker National Semiconductor Corp. (NSM) said Thursday after the markets closed that it swung to a fourth quarter loss, hurt by lower sales as well as severance and restructuring costs.

The Santa Clara, California-based company reported a net loss for the fourth quarter of $63.7 million or $0.28 per share, compared to net income of $83.2 million or $0.34 per share for the year-ago quarter. Wall Street analysts expected a loss of $0.38 per share.

Meanwhile, Delta Air Lines (DAL), the world's largest airline operator, said it will cut system capacity by 10 percent, while AMR (AMR), the parent of American Airlines, announced additional steps to handle the difficult demand environment, including further reductions in seating capacity.

Memory chip interface designer Rambus Inc. (RMBS) announced that it has reached a tentative settlement in the case filed against it by the European Commission in 2007 for alleged violation of European Union competition law.

Following a strong start on the heels of encouraging economic data Thursday, stocks were boosted higher by trader reaction to the results of the thirty-year bond auction. The major averages ended the day well off their highs, however, giving back some ground in late day trading. The Dow closed up 32 points at 8,771, the Nasdaq closed up 9 points at 1,862 and the S&P 500 closed up 6 points at 945.

In early commodities trading, crude oil futures are falling by $1.49 to $71.19 a barrel, while gold futures are plunging $20.60 to $941.40 an ounce.

On the currency front, the U.S. dollar has moved higher against the major European currencies. The buck rose to $1.3967 against the euro and climbed to $1.6350 against the pound. The dollar has also advanced versus the Japanese yen, moving to 98.37 yen.

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region ended Friday's session largely on the upside. Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 Index closed up by 1.6 percent, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng finished up by 0.5 percent.

Meanwhile, the major European markets are moving to the downside. The German DAX Index is down 0.9 percent, while the French CAC 40 Index and the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index are both down by 0.5 percent.

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