RTTNews - US stocks were poised to creep higher Thursday morning in New York ahead to the release of pivotal retail sales data, with market players looking for signs that the consumer can help lead the economy out of the doldrums.

As of 6:15 am ET, the Dow Futures were up 23 points, the NASDAQ Futures were up 4 points, and the S&P Futures were up 3 points.

The major averages finished modestly lower Wednesday amid waning buying interest and disappointing results from a ten-year note auction. The Federal Reserve's Beige Book report indicated that conditions remained weak or deteriorated further during the period from mid-April through May.

The Dow closed down 24.04 points or 0.3 percent at 8,739.02, the NASDAQ closed down 7.05 points or 0.4 percent at 1,853.08 and the S&P 500 closed down 3.28 points or 0.3 percent at 939.15.

Looking ahead to later this morning, retail sales and jobless claims on tap at 8:30 a.m. ET.

Retail sales for May are expected to rise to 0.5 percent from last month's negative 0.4 percent. The Commerce Department report will be especially closely watched, as traders will look to see if improved consumer sentiment has translated to spending.

Trading is also likely to be driven by the Labor Department's jobless claims data for the week ended June 6th. Economists expect first time claims to come in at 625,000 compared to 621,000 the previous week.

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee is hosting Kenneth Lewis, former Chief Executive Officer of Bank of America, at a hearing as part of a growing investigation into whether government officials pressured the bank to withhold details about the deal from investors despite ballooning losses at the brokerage firm.

Smartphone maker Palm, Inc. (PALM) said Wednesday that its chairman Jon Rubinstein will assume the additional role of chief executive officer upon the departure of the current incumbent Ed Colligan, who is stepping down after sixteen years with the company.

The price of oil continued its dramatic rise above $72 barrel after the International Energy Agency raised global oil demand estimate for 2009 by 120,000 barrels a day, following a stronger-than-expected first quarter OECD data.

Asian stocks were mostly stronger, but Tokyo's Nikkei fell fractionally from an eight-month high. The major European averages were up modestly across the board.

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