Analyst: 'Global markets have reacted fairly calmly to the test'
U.S. stock-index futures struggled for direction on Friday, signaling a muted open in the wake of North Korea firing another missile over Japan, although major indexes were on track for a week of solid gains.
The latest economic data failed to provide much clarity. U.S. retail sales unexpectedly fell in August (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/us-retail-sales-slump-near-end-of-summer-2017-09-15), dropping 0.2% in their second decline of the past three months. Separately, the Empire State factory gauge hit 24.4 in September, down slightly.
Dow Jones Industrial Average futures edged down by 5 points, or less than 0.1%, to 22,167.00. They had been lower by as many as 44 points, according to FactSet data. Futures for the S&P 500 slipped by 2 points to 2,492, while those for the Nasdaq-100 gave up 4.5 points to 5,966.00.
For the week, the Dow is up 1.9%, the S&P is up 1.4% and the Nasdaq is up 1.1%. All three are on track for their third positive week of the past four.
North Korea fired a missile over Japan (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/un-security-council-to-hold-emergency-meeting-after-latest-north-korean-missile-test-2017-09-14) for the second time in less than a month, defying rising international efforts to force it to abandon course. In a rare move, South Korea responded by immediately conducting a simulated strike of the North Korean launch site, while alerts were sent in Japan to smartphones of people living in areas where the missile passed over early Friday local time.
"Global markets have reacted fairly calmly to the test," said Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets UK, in a note. "Yet it is hard to escape the feeling that this so-called shadow boxing between North Korea and the rest of the world could end with a miscalculation from one side or the other."
Gold futures (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/golds-safe-haven-lift-fades-leaving-weekly-retreat-intact-2017-09-15)--which tend to draw buyers in times of geopolitical tension--inched down by 0.1% to $1,328.00 an ounce as an earlier gain faded. They had climbed to around $1,338 an ounce following North Korea's latest move.
South Korea's Kospi index closed 0.4% higher, bouncing back from an earlier drop, as Asian markets overall finished mixed (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/asian-stocks-mostly-retreat-after-north-koreas-latest-missile-test-2017-09-14).
On Thursday, the Dow industrials closed at a record for a third-straight session (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/us-stocks-in-holding-pattern-after-record-run-as-inflation-update-grabs-spotlight-2017-09-14), while the S&P and Nasdaq Composite pulled back from all-time highs achieved Wednesday.
Other markets:Oil futures (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/oil-sees-modest-losses-after-north-korea-missile-test-2017-09-15) were modestly higher, remaining on track for a weekly gain of about 5%. European stocks were mostly lower, largely staying on course for a weekly advance (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/european-stocks-head-for-16-weekly-rise-as-investors-shake-off-north-korea-jitters-2017-09-15). The ICE U.S. Dollar Index lost ground, but still was up for the week, as the pound hit a fresh 2017 high against the buck (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/ballistic-pound-shoots-up-to-highest-level-since-brexit-vote-2017-09-15) above the $1.36 mark following another hawkish signal from the Bank of England (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/boe-dove-vlieghe-now-sees-need-for-rate-hike-2017-09-15).
Economic news: Beyond the retail sales and Empire State Manufacturing Survey, a report on August industrial production is slated to hit at 9:15 a.m. Eastern Time, with economists forecasting no growth. At 10 a.m. Eastern, investors are due to get a July figure for business inventories and a September reading on consumer sentiment. The sentiment number is expected to come in at 94.5.
Check out:MarketWatch's Economic Calendar (http://www.marketwatch.com/economy-politics/calendars/economic)
Individual movers: Shares in Oracle Corp.(ORCL) fell 3% in premarket action after the software giant's outlook late Thursday (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/oracle-stock-flips-to-a-post-earnings-loss-after-guidance-2017-09-14) came in below Wall Street's expectations.
See:Oracle outlook raises concerns about growth (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/oracle-outlook-raises-concerns-about-growth-2017-09-14)
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
September 15, 2017 08:45 ET (12:45 GMT)