9-13-13 8:12 AM EDT | Email Article

By Sara Sjolin, MarketWatch


NEW YORK (MarketWatch) -- U.S. stock futures edged higher on Friday ahead of data on retail sales and consumer sentiment.


Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJZ3) rose 21 points to 15,267 and those for the S&P 500 index (SPZ3) were up less than a point to 1,678. Futures for the Nasdaq 100 index (NDZ3) inched up 4.50 points to 3,174.


"With the Federal Reserve meeting next week to discuss potential reductions to monthly bond purchases, and with developments in Syria moving along at a snail's pace, it is understandable that investors are tempted to hold fire for the next week or so," said Max Cohen, financial sales trader at Spreadex, in a note.


U.S. stocks closed lower on Thursday as investors worried about developments related to Syria and Federal Reserve policy moves.


Market participants awaited fresh data to help gauge if the Federal Reserve will begin tapering its $85-billion-a-month in asset purchases after its meeting next week. The central bank has stressed it is looking to macroeconomic data to determine when to scale back its easing program and after a string of relatively upbeat releases, analysts speculate the tapering process could start as early as September.


Retail sales for August are due at 8:30 a.m. Eastern time. Economists polled by MarketWatch expect retail sales rose 0.5% last month, led by autos and consumer electronics. Somewhat higher gas prices probably were another factor.


Retail sales rose just 0.2% in July.


At 9:55 a.m. Eastern, the University of Michigan will release its consumer-sentiment index, which economists say could fall to 81.5 from 82.1.


In other Fed-related news, a report by Japanese newspaper Nikkei, citing unnamed sources, said President Barack Obama plans to name former U.S. Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers as the next chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve board of governors possibly as soon as next week. The dollar (DXY) got a slight boost from the report, but pared gains amid some skepticism about the report.


In corporate news, Ulta Salon Cosmetics & Fragrance Inc. (ULTA) said late Thursday its second-quarter earnings rose to 70 cents a share from 54 cents a share in the same period a year ago. Shares of Ulta jumped more than 12% in after hours.


Analogic Corp. (ALOG) shares also gained in after-hours action on Thursday, rising about 3%, after the medical- and security-imaging company said adjusted quarterly earnings rose 16% to $1.53 a share.


European stocks traded lower, while Asia markets closed mixed. Both gold and oil were under selling pressure.

-Sara Sjolin; 415-439-6400; AskNewswires@dowjones.com


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09-13-13 0812ET

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