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US STOCKS-Futures slip after big gain Thursday; data due

Source : REUTERS
Last Updated: Fri, Aug 17, 2012 12:31 hrs

* U.Mich consumer sentiment survey, key indicators on tap

* Gap climbs after earnings

* Futures: Dow off 5 pts, S&P off 1.1 pt, Nasdaq up 2.75 pts

By Chuck Mikolajczak

NEW YORK, Aug 17 (Reuters) - U.S. stock indexes edged lower on Friday, after enjoying its biggest gain in two weeks Thursday, ahead of reports on consumer mindset and a gauge of leading economic indicators.

Investors awaited the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan surveys' August preliminary consumer sentiment index, due at 9:55 a.m. ET (1355 GMT). Economists in a Reuters survey expect a reading of 72.4 compared with 72.3 in the final July report.

Shortly thereafter at 10:00 a.m. ET (1400 GMT) the Conference Board releases its report on July leading economic indicators. Economists in a Reuters survey forecast a 0.2 percent rise compared with a 0.3 percent drop in June.

"We have leading economic indicators, consumer sentiment but you've got a Friday so you could see some profit taking," said Paul Mendelsohn, chief investment strategist at Windham Financial Services in Charlotte, Vermont.

"You've got good and bad there - if the numbers are really good, that maybe delays the Fed, if the numbers are real bad, maybe that pushes the Fed" toward further economic stimulus measures, he said.

The S&P rallied for six days through Aug. 10, its longest run of gains since December 2010, boosted by the anticipation of more stimulus from central banks in the United States and euro zone to stimulate their respective economies in September.

Since Aug. 10, the S&P 500 had been little changed until Thursday, when comments from German Chancellor Angela Merkel - which reinforced investor expectations for action - lifted the benchmark index by its biggest percentage gain since August 3 to a four-month peak.

"It's all about Europe and Merkel's comments coming out which appeared to support Draghi, indicates that unless the German constitutional court does something outrageous, we may be moving in the right direction here - at least in the short term," Mendelsohn said.

S&P 500 futures fell 1.1 points and were slightly below fair value, a formula that evaluates pricing by taking into account interest rates, dividends and time to expiration of the contract. Dow Jones industrial average futures lost 5 points and Nasdaq 100 futures rose 2.75 points.

Europe's top share index hit a 13-month high and was on track to record its best weekly winning streak in seven years on expectations that euro zone policymakers might resolve their differences and work closely to tackle the debt crisis.

Gap advanced 1.5 percent to $34.85 in premarket trade after the clothing retailer posted a higher quarterly profit and raised its full-year forecast.

Foot Locker Inc jumped 6.3 percent to $36.65 in premarket after the athletic footwear retailer posted second-quarter earnings that topped Wall Street estimates.

Marvell Technology Group Ltd dropped 9.6 percent to $11.10 before the bell after the chipmaker posted second-quarter earnings and said current-quarter results may miss expectations.

Network storage equipment maker Brocade Communication Systems Inc's third-quarter results beat Wall Street estimates, boosted by a 13 percent rise in storage equipment sales, and the company said its chief executive intends to resign. Its shares were unchanged at $5.63.

J.M. Smucker Co, the maker of Folgers coffee and Jif peanut butter, posted better-than-expected quarterly results as price cuts helped demand.

Thomson Reuters data shows that of the 468 companies in the S&P 500 that have reported earnings through Thursday morning, 68 percent beat analysts' expectations, about the same rate as over the past four quarters.

Asian stocks rose after Merkel's comments supporting the ECB's efforts to contain the euro zone debt crisis.




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