New York Stock Exchange
New York Stock Exchange Reuters

On the last trading day of the month, which is devoid of major data releases, events and quarterly earnings statements, stock futures suggest markets are preparing to close out the month with a bang.

Futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average were up 0.22 percent, while futures on the Standard & Poor's 500 Index were up 0.19 percent, and those on the Nasdaq 100 Index were up 0.48 percent. Friday's trading session will end at 1 p.m. EST, three hours earlier than usual.

Stocks of retailers will be watched as investors seek to gauge the endurance of the post-Thanksgiving shopping tradition that has come to be known as Black Friday, when the bulk of the year’s shopping takes place. Retail outlets' performance on this day could mean the difference between red and black ink on companies' balance sheets.

“Any indication that the recent drop in consumer sentiment in the US is encouraging them to avoid these sales could be seen as a sign that Christmas sales as a whole will be disappointing,” Craig Erlam, markets analyst at Alpari U.K., told MarketWatch. “Given the popularity of Black Friday in the past, this seems unlikely, but investors will certainly be watching this with interest throughout the day.”

In Europe, the FTSE 100 was up 0.16 percent, Germany’s DAX-30 and France's CAC-40 were both flat, while Spain’s IBEX 35 index was up 0.38 percent after Standard & Poor's lifted its outlook on the country to stable from negative, MarketWatch reported.

In Asia, markets were mixed with Japan’s Nikkei ending down 0.42 percent while Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 fell 0.27 percent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index was up 0.39 percent and South Korea’s KOSPI Composite index was down 0.04 percent while India’s BSE Sensex ended the day up 1.25 percent.