NEW YORK (MarketWatch) -- U.S. stock futures on Friday tentatively pointed to a third day of gains for Wall Street ahead of economic data that could signal expectations for consumer spending and the all-important shopping season.
Investors also awaited U.S. President Barack Obama's news conference for any comments on the economy.
Futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 20 points to 10,424 and S&P 500 futures rose 3.20 points to 1,100.8.TODAY'S TOP MARKET STORIES
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Nasdaq 100 futures advanced 5.5 points to 1,888.75.
A report due later on is expected to show a July rise in wholesale inventories and sales.
Wholesalers would be unlikely to add to their inventories without thinking that retail sales would increase in the months ahead, so the economic report could shed light on whether retail sales might improve.
"Retailers would have ordered goods in July and August for delivery by November, head of the critical shopping season. Failure to see an increase in inventory by October would mean very tight inventories for the holidays," said Marc Pado, U.S. market strategist at Cantor Fitzgerald.
"Last year, retailers were saying, 'what you see if what you get,' there was nothing in the back to put on the shelves," he added.
A decline in weekly jobless claims and an improved trade deficit fueled gains for Wall Street on Thursday, although the gains were limited after Bloomberg reported Germany's Deutsche Bank AG /quotes/comstock/13*!db/quotes/nls/db (DB 60.56, +0.57, +0.95%) /quotes/comstock/11e!fdbk (DE:DBK 47.69, +0.21, +0.44%) was considering the sale of stock to raise as much as 9 billion euros ($11.4 billion.)
The blue-chip Dow index /quotes/comstock/10w!i:dji/delayed (DJIA 10,461, +46.20, +0.44%) rose 0.3%, bringing its month-to-date gains to 4%.
In Asia, most equity markets finished with gains, as data showed that China's trade surplus narrowed to $20 billion in August.
European stock markets traded broadly lower, however, with the Stoxx Europe 600 index /quotes/comstock/22c!sxxp (ST:SXXP 264.70, -0.39, -0.15%) dropping 0.2% in afternoon trading.
On the positive side, shares of Nokia Corp. /quotes/comstock/13*!nok/quotes/nls/nok (NOK 9.96, +0.20, +2.05%) /quotes/comstock/22u!noki-sek (FI:NOK1V 7.79, +0.05, +0.65%) rallied after the mobile-phone maker announced the appointment of a Canadian-born executive from Microsoft Corp. /quotes/comstock/15*!msft/quotes/nls/msft (MSFT 23.82, -0.19, -0.79%) to be its next chief executive. U.S.-listed shares of Nokia gained 4.2% in premarket trading. Read more on Nokia's new CEO.
Conversely, Texas Instruments Inc. /quotes/comstock/13*!txn/quotes/nls/txn (TXN 23.57, -0.27, -1.13%) lowered the upper range of its outlook for third-quarter profit and sales.
In the commodity markets, crude-oil futures rose $1.20, or 1.63%, to $75.44 a barrel in electronic trading on Globex. The International Energy Agency revised slightly higher its estimate for global oil demand for 2010, but it warned that there is a continuing "significant downside risk" to its forecasts if the world economy were to stall.
The dollar index /quotes/comstock/11j!i:dxy0 (DXY 82.70, +0.03, +0.03%) , which tracks the performance of the greenback against a basket of other major currencies, edged slightly higher to 82.804.
Polya Lesova is MarketWatch's London bureau chief. Kate Gibson is a reporter for MarketWatch, based in New York.Powered By iWebRSS.com