RTTNews - After seeing two days of gains, stocks are poised to open modestly lower on Friday, as traders are looking to an influx of economic data. The major index futures are all in negative territory, with the Dow futures down by 18 points.
Kicking off the day were figures from the Labor Department, which showed that consumer prices were unchanged in the month of July, with decreases in food and energy prices offsetting higher prices for apparel and tobacco.
The Labor Department said its consumer price index was unchanged in July after increasing by an unrevised 0.7 percent in June. The lack of growth in consumer prices came in line with the expectations of economists.
Excluding the decreases in food and energy prices, the core consumer price index edged up 0.1 percent in July following a 0.2 percent increase in the previous month. Economists had expected the index to increase by 0.1 percent.
Traders will also look to data from the Federal Reserve, which will be releasing a report on industrial production and capacity utilization for July at 9:15 a.m. ET. Economists expect industrial production to show an increase of 0.4 percent, while the capacity utilization rate is expected to come in at 68.3 percent.
Shortly after the opening bell, the Reuters/University of Michigan's preliminary report on consumer sentiment index for August is also likely to garner attention. The consumer sentiment index is expected to rise to 69 from the previous month's reading of 66. The data is slated to be released at 9:55 a.m. ET.
In earnings news, J.C. Penney Company (JCP) broke even for the second quarter in terms of earnings per share compared to net income of $0.52 per share in the same quarter last year. Thirteen Wall Street analysts polled by Thomson Reuters expected the company to report a loss of $0.01 per share. Looking forward, the company raised its annual profit outlook.
Abercrombie & Fitch (ANF) reported a second quarter net loss of $0.30 per share, compared to net income of $0.87 per share last year. Wall Street analysts expected the company to report a loss of $0.07 per share. Quarterly sales totaled $648.46 million, beating estimates of $646.46 million.
In other news, Europe's largest carmaker Volkswagen AG agreed to buy a 42 percent stake in the sports car unit of Porsche Automobil Holding SE for about 3.3 billion euro by the end of this year. The agreement is expected to lead to the merger of Porsche with Volkswagen, which is scheduled to be completed in 2011.
Stocks were able to post modest gains on Thursday, even as a slew of largely disappointing economic reports contributed to some uncertainty in the markets. The Dow finished up by 37 points at 9,398, the Nasdaq climbed by 11 points to 2,009 and the S&P 500 rose by 7 points to 1,014.
Crude oil futures are rising in early commodities trading, moving up to $70.83 a barrel after moving modestly higher in the previous session. The price of gold is also gaining ground, climbing by $3.30 to $958.70 an ounce.
On the currency front, the U.S. dollar is sliding against the major European currencies, dropping to $1.4284 against the euro and falling to $1.6601 versus the pound. The buck is also retreating versus the yen, setting a one-week low of 94.61 yen.
In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region finished mostly higher on Friday. Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 Index rose by 0.8 percent, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index climbed up by 0.2 percent. Meanwhile, India's BSE 30 fell by 0.7 percent.
The major European markets are also moving higher, with the French CAC 40 Index and the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index advancing by 0.6 percent and 0.5 percent, respectively, while the German DAX Index is up by 0.3 percent.
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