Futures Point Higher After Four-Day Losing Streak

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After four-straight sessions of losses, stock-index futures pointed to modest gains as traders mulled a report showing a narrowing U.S. trade deficit and awaited minutes from the Fed.

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Today's Markets

As of 8:38 a.m. ET, Dow Jones Industrial Average futures rose 28 points to 12613, S&P 500 futures gained 2.5 points to 1338 and Nasdaq 100 futures climbed 1.3 points to 2579.

The markets have fallen for four days in a row, as traders have been confronted with mixed data on the global economy and confusing signals from the eurozone.

A round of reports due out on the day may provide more insight into how the American economy is faring. The U.S. trade deficit fell to $48.68 billion in May from an upwardly revised $50.6 billion in April. Economists were expecting the deficit to narrow to $48.5 billion from an initially reported $50.06 billion. The data figure directly into broader measures of economic growth; the larger the deficit, the more it drags growth down. It also provides a picture of how strong domestic and international demand is holding up.

A report due later in the morning is forecast to show wholesale inventories having risen by 0.3% in May from April. Higher inventories imply companies are purchasing goods and adding to their stocks in anticipation of higher demand.

The Federal Reserve releases minutes from its June at roughly 2:00 p.m. ET. Analysts will be looking to see what factors led the central bank to renew "Operation Twist," its program to extend the maturity of its balance sheet. They will also be paying close attention to any hints as to whether or not the Fed will boost the size of its balance sheet in another quantitative easing program.

The central bank has been faced with a considerable amount of data suggesting the rate of expansion in the U.S. economy has slowed down dramatically, coupled with three-straight months of tepid job growth.

It has been a volatile week for oil futures, with traders paying close attention to the narrowly averted oil-worker strike in Norway. The benchmark contract traded in New York jumped $1.34, or 1.6%, to $85.24 a barrel. Wholesale New York Harbor gasoline fell 0.1%, to $2.744 a gallon.

In metals, gold dipped $2.90, or 0.18%, to $1,577 a troy ounce.

In corporate news, Peregrine Financial Group filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy after regulators accused the brokerage of misappropriating millions of dollars in customer funds. People involved in the futures industry said the move may erode confidence as it occurred just months after the collapse of MF Global.

"It’s not as big as MFGlobal but a repeat is not good for confidence in futures brokers and for the futures industry," Olivier Jakob, managing director at Petromatrix, based in Switzerland wrote in an e-mail.

Foreign Markets

The Euro Stoxx 50 rose 0.37% to 2250, the English FTSE 100 fell 0.05% to 5661 and the German DAX climbed 0.47% to 6468.

In Asia, the Japanese Nikkei 225 slipped 0.08% to 8851 and the Chinese Hang Seng edged higher by 0.12% to 19420.