Stock Futures Climb; Oil, Data in Focus

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Stock-index futures climbed into the green on Friday morning as traders eyed rising crude oil prices and awaited fresh data on the U.S. economy.

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Today's Markets

As of 9:08 a.m. ET, Dow Jones Industrial Average futures climbed 9 points to 12983, S&P 500 futures gained 1.5 points to1365 and Nasdaq 100 futures rose 2.3 points to 2603.

The markets have had a strong start to the year so far: The Dow closed the trading day on Thursday at its highest level since May 2008, while the S&P 500 and Nasdaq are both in easy striking distance of 52-week highs.

Market participants have been paying close attention to commodity markets in recent days. U.S. crude oil prices settled at their highest value since May 2011 on Thursday as tension has mounted between Western Countries and Iran, stoking fear that worldwide oil supplies may be reduced. The benchmark contract traded in New York recently rose 45 cents, or 0.44%, to $108.30 a barrel.

Elsewhere, New York Harbor RBOB gasoline edged 0.06% higher to $3.116 a gallon, having hit a 2012 settlement high in the last session. A gallon of regular costs $3.65 on average nationwide, up from $3.38 just a month ago, according to the AAA Fuel Gauge Report.

The most recent consumer sentiment data from Reuters/University of Michigan is on tap for 9:55 a.m. ET. Economists expect the gauge to have ticked up in the latter part of February, but come in lower than in January. High gasoline prices may be beginning to take a toll on sentiment, economists at Nomura wrote in a note to clients on Friday.

The markets will also get a round of fresh data on the U.S. housing market at 10:00 a.m. ET. New home sales may have risen slightly in January to an annualized rate of 315,000 units from 307,000 in December, according to economists' forecasts.

On the earnings front, J.C. Penney (NYSE:JCP) swung to an $87 million net loss in the fourth quarter as restructuring costs took a big bite out of the retailer's bottom line. However, the company's non-GAAP results topped Wall Street's estimates.

In metals, gold fell $7.90, or 0.44%, to $1,778 a troy ounce. Silver slipped 12 cents, or 0.35%, to $35.42 a troy ounce. U.S. Treasury prices rose, pushing yields lower. The 10-year note presently yields 1.993% from 2.003%.

Foreign Markets

European blue chips climbed 0.54%, the English FTSE 100 rose 0.16% to 5948 and the German DAX gained 0.79% to 6863.

In Asia, the Japanese Nikkei 225 edged higher by 0.54% to 9647 and the Chinese Hang Seng inched higher by 0.12% to 21407.

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