Wall Street Tilts to the Upside Amid Consumer Data

Dow Jones Newswires

U.S. stocks edged up Friday, with the S&P 500 eyeing its best August performance in 14 years.

Investors are awaiting readings on Chicago-area business conditions and consumer sentiment, both due shortly after the opening bell. Ahead of the bell, the Commerce Department reported an unexpected dip in consumer spending, and stock futures trimmed their gains slightly after that report.

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The S&P 500 (SPX) rose 3 points, or 0.2%, to 2,000, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average(DJI) gained 15 points, or 0.1%, to 17,095. The Nasdaq Composite(RIXF) tacked on 12 points, or 0.3%, to 4,570.

Friday's moves follow a modestly downbeat session on Thursday, when the S&P 500 halted its three-day winning streak after Kiev said Russian forces had entered Ukraine.

S&P eyes best August in 14 years: The S&P 500 has gained 3.4% for the month through Thursday, and if that holds it would represent the benchmark's best August performance since 2000. The S&P 500 is also on pace for its largest monthly percentage jump since February, when it rose 4.3%.

For the week, the S&P 500 is up 0.6%. The Dow is on track for advances of 0.6% for the week and 3.2% for the month, while the Nasdaq is eyeing climbs of 0.7% for the week and 4.6% for August.

Consumer spending slips: Consumer spending dipped 0.1% in July, marking its first decline in six months and falling short of the 0.1% increase expected by economists polled by MarketWatch. At 9:45 a.m. Eastern, the Chicago purchasing managers index for August comes out, with economists expecting a reading of 57.5. Then, 10 minutes later, the Reuters/University of Michigan consumer sentiment index for August is slated to hit, with a reading of 80.1 anticipated.

Movers and shakers: Big Lots Inc. (BIG) fell 1.5% after the discount retailer reported better-than-expected second-quarter earnings, while revenue came in slightly below expectations.

Splunk Inc. (SPLK) jumped 9.5% after the software maker late Thursday reported earnings that topped analysts' estimates, while Avago Technologies Ltd. (AVGO) climbed 8.9% as the chip company's earnings, out late Thursday, also beat analysts' expectations.

(Read more about Friday's jumpiest stocks in the Movers & Shakers column http://www.marketwatch.com/story/splunk-rallies-freds-to-close-60-stores-2014-08-29.)

Other markets: European stock markets were little changed as investors digested euro-zone inflation data. Stocks in Asia closed mixed. Oil prices (CLV4) gained, while gold (GCZ4) moved lower. The dollar (DXY) edged up against most rivals.