US stock futures tick up ahead of economic data

Later in the day, FedEx will report quarterly earnings after markets close

U.S. stock futures ticked up Tuesday ahead of the release of industrial production data that may provide insights into the pace of economic recovery.

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Futures tied to the S&P 500 advanced 0.3%, signaling a rise in U.S. equity markets after the opening bell. Contracts linked to the Nasdaq Composite rose 0.5%, pointing to another day of gains for tech stocks.

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Industrial production figures for August, due at 9:15 a.m. ET, are expected to show an increase, led by a rise in manufacturing output. The figures will be closely scrutinized by investors as an indicator of the extent of the economic recovery in the world's largest economy.

Earlier Tuesday, key economic statistics showed that China's economic recovery accelerated in August. Retail sales in the Asian nation returned to pre-coronavirus levels with their first month of growth this year. Other major indicators, including factory production, investment and property activity, all gathered pace, signaling a strong rebound for the world's second-largest economy.

"It paints a fairly robust picture of the Chinese economy," said Sebastien Galy, a macro strategist at Nordea Asset Management. "It's a solid positive surprise, but the data tells you more about the message the Chinese government wants to give you."

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The Shanghai Composite Index closed up 0.5%, and Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index rose 0.4%. The yuan strengthened 0.4% against the dollar in offshore trading, climbing to the highest level since May 2019.

In the U.S., "a lot of people will be looking to industrial production to see if the economic recovery is picking up," Mr. Galy said. "I wouldn't be surprised if we also see good numbers there, there's a lot of pent-up demand in the U.S."

Gold rose 0.4% to $1,975.80 a troy ounce, the highest level in two weeks. The yield on 10-year U.S. Treasury bonds slid to 0.667%, from 0.669% on Monday.

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Overseas, the pan-continental Stoxx Europe 600 rose about 0.1%. Among European equities, Sweden's H & M Hennes & Mauritz jumped over 12.5% after the fashion retailer's third-quarter preliminary pretax profit beat analysts' estimates.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles climbed 5.6% after the car maker changed the terms of its merger with PSA Group to preserve cash. Fiat Chrysler will pay a cash dividend of EUR2.9 billion ($3.44 billion) to shareholders, down from the previously agreed EUR5.5 billion. PSA, which owns the Peugeot and Citroën brands, slipped 1.1% after agreeing to distribute its $3.2-billion stake in car parts supplier Faurencia to shareholders, instead of selling it.

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Later in the day, FedEx will report quarterly earnings after markets close. The global shipping company is considered to be an economic bellwether, as its revenue growth may indicate higher levels of business activity.

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