US STOCKS-Wall Street to open higher on Fed plan; Kraft to exit Dow

Last Updated: Fri, Sep 14, 2012 18:45 hrs

* Dollar falls, commodities climb on QE3

* Retail sales, CPI rise

* Futures up: Dow 33 pts, S&P 3.9 pts, Nasdaq 9 pts

By Chuck Mikolajczak

NEW YORK, Sept 14 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks were poised to open higher on Friday, putting the S&P 500 on track for a fourth straight gain and adding to equities' advance Thursday in the wake of an aggressive plan by the Federal Reserve to stimulate the economy.

The Federal Reserve launched another stimulus program Thursday, its third quantitative easing measure, saying it would pump $40 billion into the U.S. economy each month until the jobs market showed sustained growth.

U.S. retail sales rose 0.9 percent in August, advancing for a second straight month, boosted by automobiles and high gasoline prices, but the underlying tone pointed to modest economic growth in the third quarter.

"When you start to decompose the look of what happened in the retail number, people are going to start to back away a little bit; although the numbers weren't any surprise, they were pretty much on consensus," said Sandy Lincoln, chief market strategist at BMO Asset Management U.S. in Chicago.

"It (also) adds a little bit of additional credibility and validity, if anybody needed it, for what (Fed Chairman Ben) Bernanke did yesterday."

U.S. consumer prices rose 0.6 percent in August, the most in three years as the cost of gasoline jumped, but there was little sign of a pick-up in underlying inflation pressures, which should allow the Federal Reserve to stay on its ultra-easy policy path.

U.S. industrial output fell 1.2 percent in August, the most in more than three years as production slowed in factories and a hurricane temporarily shut down oil and natural gas rigs in the Gulf of Mexico. Analysts polled by Reuters had expected industrial output to be flat last month.

The Fed announcement Thursday pushed the Dow and S&P 500 to their highest levels since December 2007 and the Nasdaq to its highest close since November 2000.

It also pushed the dollar down 0.5 percent, boosting commodities by raising the allure of those priced in a weaker U.S. currency. Freeport-Mcmoran Copper & Gold Inc rose 1.7 percent to $42.50 and Alcoa Inc advanced 2 percent to $9.82 in premarket trade.

S&P 500 futures rose 3.9 points and were above fair value, a formula that evaluates pricing by taking into account interest rates, dividends and time to expiration on the contract. Dow Jones industrial average futures gained 33 points, and Nasdaq 100 futures added 9 points.

S&P Dow Jones Indices said UnitedHealth Group Inc will replace Kraft Foods Inc in the Dow Jones Industrial Average after the close of trading Friday, Sept. 21. Kraft is being removed as a result of its decision to spin off its North American grocery business. UnitedHealth shares rose 2.5 percent to $55.23 and Kraft slipped 0.7 percent to $39.85 in premarket trading.

The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan Surveys of Consumers will release the preliminary September consumer sentiment index at 9:55 a.m. ET (1355 GMT). Economists in a Reuters survey expect a reading of 74.0 compared with 74.3 in the final August report.

At 10:00 a.m. ET (1400 GMT), the Commerce Department issues Business Inventories for July, with economists in a Reuters survey expecting a rise of 0.3 percent versus a 0.1 percent rise in June.

Staples Inc gained 4.7 percent to $12.52 in premarket trading after Fortune reported several private equity firms, including Bain Capital, were considering a buyout offer for the office retailer.

Honeywell International Inc shed 0.6 percent to $60.76 premarket after a top executive said the company has experienced weaker-than-expected order rates in Europe and China over the past few months, offset by stronger-than-expected orders in the United States.

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