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Futures Pointing To Mixed Open On Wall Street - U.S. Commentary


Stocks may show a lack of direction in early trading on Friday following the strong upward move seen in the previous session. The major index futures are currently pointing to a mixed open for the markets, with the Dow futures up by 59 points and the Nasdaq futures down by 13 points.

Traders are digesting some closely watched economic data, including a report from the Commerce Department showing retail sales rose in line with economist estimates in the month of December.

The Commerce Department said retail sales increased by 0.4 percent in December after climbing by an upwardly revised 0.9 percent in November.

Economists had expected retail sales to rise by 0.4 percent compared to the 0.8 percent increase originally reported for the previous month.

Excluding auto sales, retail sales still rose by 0.4 percent in December after jumping by 1.3 percent in November. The increase in ex-auto sales also matched estimates.

A separate report from the Labor Department showed consumer prices rose by less than expected in December, reflecting a sharp pullback in energy prices.

The Labor Department said its consumer price index inched up by 0.1 percent in December after climbing by 0.4 in November. Economists had expected prices to rise by 0.2 percent.

Meanwhile, the report said core consumer prices, which exclude food and energy prices, increased by 0.3 percent in December after ticking up by 0.1 percent in November. Core prices had been expected to rise by 0.2 percent.

Shortly after the start of trading, the Commerce Department is scheduled to release its report on business inventories in the month of November. Inventories are expected to rise by 0.3 percent.

Earnings news may also impact trading on the day, with financial giants JPMorgan Chase (JPM) and Wells Fargo (WFC) among the companies reporting their quarterly results.

Shares of JPMorgan are modestly higher in pre-market trading after the financial giant reported better than expected fourth quarter results. The company recorded a $2.4 billion charge related to the new tax law.

On the other hand, Wells Fargo (WFC) may move to the downside despite reporting fourth quarter earnings that appeared to exceed analyst estimates. The results included a $3.35 billion after-tax benefit from tax reform.

Stocks moved notably higher over the course of the trading day on Thursday, more than offsetting the modest pullback seen on Wednesday. With the upward move, the major averages climbed to new record closing highs.

The major averages saw further upside going into the close, ending the session at their best levels of the day. The Dow jumped 205.60 points or 0.8 percent to 25,574.73, the Nasdaq advanced 58.21 points or 0.8 percent to 7,211.78 and the S&P 500 climbed 19.33 points or 0.7 percent to 2,767.56.

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region moved mostly higher on Friday. China's Shanghai Composite Index inched up by 0.1 percent, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index advanced by 0.9 percent. However, Japan's Nikkei 225 Index bucked the uptrend and dipped by 0.2 percent.

Meanwhile, the major European markets are turning in a mixed performance on the day. While the German DAX Index has edged down by 0.1 percent, the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index and the French CAC 40 Index are both up by 0.2 percent.

In commodities trading, crude oil futures are sliding $0.58 to $63.22 a barrel after rising $0.23 to $63.80 a barrel on Thursday. Meanwhile, after climbing $3.20 to $1,322.50 an ounce in the previous session, gold futures are up $4.30 at $1,326.80 an ounce.

On the currency front, the U.S. dollar is trading at 111.52 yen compared to the 111.26 yen it fetched at the close of New York trading on Thursday. Against the euro, the dollar is valued at $1.2128 compared to yesterday's $1.2032.

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