Stock futures higher as markets poised to finish week on positive note

Diane Alter – AHN News Reporter

New York, NY, United States (AHN) – Stock index futures point to extended gains for Wall Street Friday as traders remain upbeat on the U.S. economy.

Shortly before the opening bell, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 38 points to 13,209, the Standard & Poor’s 500 futures eked up 3.3 points and the NASDAQ futures climbed 8.8 points.

The closely watched S&P benchmark, because of its diversity, surpassed the 1,400 threshold Thursday for the first time since before the 2008 financial crisis. All three indexes have made impressive gains in recent trading sessions.

The markets in general have gotten a lift from optimistic data on the recovering U.S. economy, coupled with easing fears about the European debt crisis.

Market participants will be eyeing three key economic reports on Friday.

Before the open, a report on Inflation at the consumer level showed an increase of 0.4 percent in February, in line with estimates, with a spike in gas prices accounting for almost 80 percent of the rise. Excluding the food and energy components, prices were up 0.1 percent, slightly less than the 0.2 percent forecast.

Later on Friday, data from the Federal Reserve is expected to show production in the U.S. industrial sector grew at 0.4 percent in February from the prior month. Two regional manufacturing reports came in ahead of expectations on Thursday.

Also expected is a report on consumer sentiment which is expected to show a very slight, but positive, rise in early March. Rising gasoline prices may have also taken its toll here, too.

In premarket trading, oil rose 40 cents to $ 105.51 a barrel, and gold gave back $ 13,00 to $ 1,646 a troy ounce.

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