U.S. Stock-Index Futures Gain on Unexpected Rise in Retail Sales
U.S. stock-index futures extended gains after retail sales unexpectedly increased in February, adding to signs the economic recovery is gaining momentum.
Futures on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index expiring in June increased 0.3 percent to 1,149.5 at 8:32 a.m. in New York. Dow Jones Industrial Average futures rose 27 points, or 0.3 percent, to 10,575. Retail purchases increased 0.3 percent last month, the Commerce Department said.
Another report from Reuters/University of Michigan due at 9:55 a.m. may show the group’s preliminary consumer sentiment index for March rose to 74 from 73.6 last month, according to the survey median. Finally, a Commerce Department report at 10 a.m. may show business inventories rose 0.1 percent in January after dropping 0.2 percent the prior month, economists said.
U.S. stocks rose for a third day yesterday, sending the S&P 500 to the highest level since October 2008, as Citigroup Inc. led a rally in bank shares.
The S&P 500 closed at a 15-month high of 1,150.23 on Jan. 19, and then plunged 8.1 percent through Feb. 8 on concern that European nations including Greece will fail to pay back debt and speculation that the Fed will need to rein in emergency stimulus measures as the economy improves. After erasing the loss, the index has surged 70 percent since March 9, 2009.
European Union finance ministers will discuss next week whether any Greek bailout should be funded by issuing EU bonds guaranteed by euro region governments, said three people briefed on preparations for March 15-16 meetings.
Another option would be for governments in the 16-nation bloc to give Greece loans to help the country finance its budget deficit, said the people, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the talks are private. Any EU bond sale would have to be agreed on by all 27 EU nations, they said. Euro region ministers meet in Brussels on March 15 and will be joined by the rest of the EU the next day.