MARKET SNAPSHOT: U.S. Stocks Poised To Open Lower, With Spotlight On Retail Sales, Inflation Data

By Barbara Kollmeyer, MarketWatch Features Dow Jones Newswires

J.C. Penney earnings due ahead of the bell

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U.S. stocks looked set to pull back again Friday, ahead of data on the struggling retail sector and on consumer prices, in what has largely been a losing week clouded by political worries.

Dow Jones Industrial Average futures slipped 37 points to 20,834, while S&P 500 futures dipped 6.1 points, or 0.3%, to 2,385 and Nasdaq Composite futures eased 11.50 points, or 0.2%, to 5,659.

Investors will keep a close eye on retail sales data and a reading of inflation due later, for their potential to sway the Federal Reserve's monetary policy thinking.

"Both have the ability to move the [dollar] around and could affect the pricing structure around the June FOMC meeting, with expectations of a [rate] hike sitting around 80%," said Chris Weston, chief market strategist at IG, in a note to clients.

U.S. stocks finished with losses on Thursday (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/nasdaqs-record-run-on-the-line-as-snap-tumbles-after-results-2017-05-11), though well off session lows, led by declines for retail shares. Investors were grappling with lingering concerns over President Donald Trump's ability to push through his pro-growth agenda, after his abrupt firing of FBI Director James Comey earlier in the week.

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The Nasdaq Composite closed down 0.2% at 6,115.96, while the S&P 500 dipped 0.2% to 2,3944.44. Down as much as 145 points earlier, the DJIA finished 23.69 points lower at 20,919.42, but was off as much as 0.7% points earlier in the session.

Read:Retail stocks rocked as Macy's casts pall on sector (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/retail-stocks-rocked-as-macys-casts-pall-on-sector-2017-05-11)

For the week so far, the Dow is looking at 0.4% drop and the S&P 500 at a 0.2% decline, each set to break a three-week string of weekly wins. The Nasdaq Composite is poised for a gain of 0.2%. That would mark the index's fourth-straight weekly rise, albeit the smallest in the streak.

Economic docket: The retail sales data for April is expected to come at 8:30 a.m. Eastern Time. Economists polled by MarketWatch forecast a rebound of 0.5% growth from declines in March and February. Those declines contributed to a broader slowdown in consumer spending in the first quarter, the weakest in eight years.

At the same time, the consumer price index will be released. Economists expect core CPI rose 0.2%, from a 0.1% fall in March.

Read:Whew -- the U.S. economy really isn't slowing (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/whew-us-economy-really-isnt-slowing-2017-05-07)

At 10 a.m. Eastern, the University of Michigan consumer sentiment survey for May is due, as is a reading on business inventories in March.

As for Fed speakers, Chicago Fed President Charles Evans will appear on a panel on economy and interest rates at the ACI financial markets conference in Dublin, Ireland at 9 a.m. Eastern. Then Philadelphia Fed President Patrick Harker is due to speak on the economic outlook at Drexel University in Philadelphia at 12:30 p.m. Eastern.

Stock movers: After the Macy's Inc.(M) revenue slide dragged the retail sector south Thursday, J.C. Penney Co.'s(JCP) earnings report ahead of the open should be closely watched for similar signs of struggle.

Read:J.C. Penney options traders prep for an unusually wild ride after earnings report (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/jc-penney-options-traders-prep-for-an-unusually-wild-ride-after-earnings-report-2017-05-11)

Other markets: U.S. oil prices moved lower on Friday, though they were still headed for a gain of 3% for the week. Investors remain hopeful that the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries will extend a production-cut deal when it meets on May 25.

Read:Here's why OPEC might just let the deal on oil output collapse (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/heres-why-opec-might-just-let-the-deal-on-oil-output-cuts-collapse-2017-05-11)

And see: U.S. oil prices will skyrocket if border tax comes in, says Goldman's Currie (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/us-oil-would-surge-if-border-adjusted-tax-enacted-says-goldmans-currie-2017-05-10)

Asian stocks were mixed (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/asian-markets-pull-back-after-weak-earnings-in-us-2017-05-11), as some indexes retreated in step with U.S. stock losses, but Chinese equities gained. European stocks moved modestly higher (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/european-stocks-log-small-gains-as-vivendi-rallies-but-cartiers-parent-a-drag-2017-05-12).

Gold prices rose $5, or 0.4%, to $1,229.20 an ounce, while the dollar held steady.

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

May 12, 2017 05:47 ET (09:47 GMT)