Futures Rise as China Inflation Cools

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U.S. stock-index futures climbed mildly on Tuesday as traders mulled cooling prices in China and mixed quarterly earnings from aluminum giant Alcoa.

Today's Markets

As of 7:50 a.m. ET, Dow Jones Industrial Average futures climbed 12 points to 14575, S&P 500 futures gained 2.8 points to 1562 and Nasdaq 100 futures rose 9.3 points to 2790.

Retail-level inflation in China fell to a year-to-year rate of 2.1% in March from 3.2% the month before. Economists expected a reading of 2.4%. The data "put to bed any fears that the People’s Bank of China will hike interest rates," David Madden, a market analyst at IG in London wrote in an e-mail.

That comes as good news to many traders who have worried that the world's second-biggest economy may see its growth slow down rapidly, especially if the PBoC pulled back on its monetary policy levers.

On the U.S. front, Alcoa (NYSE:AA) unofficially kicked off earnings season with mixed results. The blue-chip aluminum maker revealed adjusted first-quarter profits of 11 cents a share, topping expectations of 8 cents. Meanwhile, revenues came in at $5.8 billion, shy of expectations of $5.88 billion.

J.C. Penney (NYSE:JCP) ousted Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) alumnus Ron Johnson from its top spot, installing its former chief executive, Mike Ullman, at the helm. Traders panned the news, sending the stock sinking close to 10%. Still, analysts at Citigroup (NYSE:C) told clients Tuesday Ullman is a "strong choice" based on his deep experience in retail and at struggling Penney.

The data docket is light on the day, with a report on wholesale inventories due at 10:00 a.m. ET. Economists expect inventories to have risen by 0.5% in February from the month before. Generally, inventories are seen as an indicator of expected demand for products.

Elsewhere, energy and gasoline futures were in the green. The benchmark U.S. crude oil contract rose 21 cents, or 0.22%, to $93.57 a barrel. Wholesale New York Harbor gasoline climbed 0.88% to $2.935 a gallon. In metals, gold fell $1, or 0.06%, to $1,572 a troy ounce.

Foreign Markets

The Euro Stoxx 50 climbed 0.65% to 2606, the English FTSE 100 gained 0.5% to 6308 and the German DAX rose 0.32% to 7686.

In Asia, the Japanese Nikkei 225 was flat at 13192 and the Chinese Hang Seng jumped 0.7% to 21870.