U.S. Stocks Futures Rise as Investors Shrug Off Weak Retail Sales

Date : 11/14/2012 @ 9:35AM
Source : Dow Jones News

U.S. Stocks Futures Rise as Investors Shrug Off Weak Retail Sales

By Jonathan Cheng and Tomi Kilgore

U.S. stock futures shrugged off retail sales data that came in a touch below expectations, as investors looked to encouraging earnings from Cisco Systems to try and rebound off a three-month low.

Less than an hour before the opening bell, Dow Jones Industrial Average futures gained 29 points, or 0.2%, to 12746, one day after falling to its lowest level since late July.

Standard & Poor's 500-stock index futures tacked on four points, or 0.3%, to 1375 and Nasdaq 100 futures rose 11 points, or 0.4%, to 2572.

Prior to the retail sales data, Dow futures had added 31 points, S&P 500 futures gained four points and Nasdaq futures advanced 11 points. Changes in stock futures don't always accurately predict stock moves after the opening bell.

The moves came after retail sales dropped 0.3% in October as a result of the superstorm Sandy that hit much of the East Coast in the last week of the month, worse than expectations for a 0.2% decrease. Excluding autos, retail sales were flat, disappointing estimates for a 0.2% gain.

Separately, wholesale prices fell 0.2% in October from the previous month, the first drop in five months. Economists had expected a 0.2% increase. So-called core prices, which strip out volatile energy and food components, fell 0.2% in October, against expectations for a rise of 0.1%.

Business inventories in September, due out at 10 a.m. ET, are expected to rise 0.6%.

In corporate news, shares of Dow component Cisco Systems rallied 7.5% in premarket trading after the network-equipment maker reported fiscal first-quarter earnings and revenue that exceeded analyst expectations, boosted by strength in its services business.

Facebook gained 1.6% premarket as investors positioned for the expiration of lockups that will make about 804 million shares available for trading on Wednesday--nearly double the amount of the existing public float.

Overseas, European markets declined. The Stoxx Europe 600 eased 0.4% and London's FTSE 100 gave up 0.6% after downbeat economic data from the euro zone and the U.K.

Euro-zone industrial production for September fell 2.5%, the largest monthly decline since January 2009. In Portugal, economic growth fell 0.8% in the third quarter, for its eighth consecutive quarter of contraction, while Greece's third-quarter GDP fell 7.2% after contracting 6.3% in the second quarter.

The Bank of England said inflation rose an annual 2.7% in October, well above the target rate of 2%, prompting the central bank to freeze its bond-buying stimulus program in November.

On the bright side, Italy auctioned off the maximum targeted amount of government bonds. Yields came in lower than at previous auctions.

Asian markets nudged higher, bouncing from a recent string of losses, with the conclusion of China's 18th Party Congress helping ease some investor uncertainty. Japan's Nikkei Stock Average inched up less than 0.1% to snap a seven-session losing streak, while China's Shanghai Composite rose 0.4%.

Crude oil futures ticked up to about $85.20 a barrel, while gold futures were roughly flat at $1,725 an ounce. The dollar lost ground against the euro but rallied against the yen.

In other corporate news, Abercrombie & Fitch shot up 31% after the teen-apparel retailer reported quarterly earnings and revenue that topped analyst forecasts, boosted by strong international and direct-to-consumer sales growth. Its full-year earnings outlook was also well above current projections.

Zynga gained 0.5% after the social games maker said its chief financial officer, David Wehner, was leaving the company to pursue a senior finance position at Facebook. The company also affirmed its 2012 financial outlook.

Mosaic slumped 5% after the fertilizer company lowered its current quarter volume and price outlook, citing a decline in international crop nutrient market demand.

Staples climbed 4.7% after the retailer of office supplies topped quarterly earnings estimates, and said it expected full-year earnings to rise above year-ago levels, compared with current forecasts for a slight decline.

Iamgold declined 6.6% after the miner's quarterly earnings and revenue missed forecasts amid lower gold sales. It lowered its capital expenditure outlook for 2013 as a result of delayed approval of a sulphide project.

Write to Jonathan Cheng at jonathan.cheng@wsj.com

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