Futures Tick Up as Traders Mull Data, Corporate News

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U.S. stock-index futures drifted higher Wednesday as traders considered economic data that matched expectations, along with a batch of corporate news.

Today's Markets

As of 8:35 a.m. ET, Dow Jones Industrial Average futures climbed 14 points to 13987, S&P 500 futures gained 2.8 points to 1519 and Nasdaq 100 futures advanced 8.8 points to 2770.

The Dow is once again trading at its highest level since October 2007, and sitting just 1% below its record closing high of 14165.

The Commerce Department said U.S. retail sales rose 0.1% in January from December, as expected. Excluding the auto segment, sales were up 0.2%, slightly above the 0.1% estimated. In addition to being the first glimpse of first-quarter retail performance, they will also be the first indicator of how the 2% hike in payroll taxes is impacting consumers, according to Dan Greenhaus, chief global strategist at BTIG.

Consumer discretionary stocks, like Saks (NYSE:SKS) and Tiffany & Co. (NYSE:TIF), could be impacted most by these data.

Meanwhile, a separate report from Commerce showed U.S. import prices jumped 0.6% in January from December, slightly less than the 0.7% expected, while export prices rose 0.3% as expected.

In corporate news, Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA) revealed plans to purchase General Electric's (NYSE:GE) 49% common stock stake in NBCUniversal for $16.7 billion after the closing bell on Tuesday. Shares of both companies jumped.

Deere (NYSE:DE) also posted considerably better-than-expected quarterly results and lifted its full-year outlook, sending shares of the equipment-maker climbing. Earnings from networking heavyweight Cisco (NASDAQ:CSCO) are on tap after the closing bell.

Elsewhere, oil futures were in the green. The benchmark U.S. contract rose 38 cents, or 0.38%, to $97.88 a barrel. Wholesale New York Harbor gasoline climbed 0.31% to $3.06 a gallon. Gold slipped $2.10, or 0.12%, to $1,648 a troy ounce.

Foreign Markets

The Euro Stoxx 50 rose 0.15% to 2653, the English FTSE 100 fell 0.1% to 6332 and the German DAX climbed 0.56% to 7703.

In Asia, the Japanese Nikkei 225 sold off by 1% to 11251.

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