US stock futures rise ahead of economic data

February 24, 2012
Stocks open higher; Dow edges above 13,000 mark

FILE - In this Feb. 22, 2012 file photo, trader Stephen Holden, right, works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. Optimism over the state of the U.S. economy supported markets on Friday, Feb. 24, ahead of a weekend meeting of the finance ministers of the leading 20 industrial and developing nations in Mexico, where Europe's debt crisis will likely be a key topic of debate. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)

NEW YORK (AP) -- U.S. stock market futures rose Friday ahead of reports on new home sales and consumer sentiment that are expected to show more positive signs for the economy.

Dow Jones industrial average futures added 14 points to 12,988, and the Standard & Poor's 500 futures added 2.4 points to 1,365.30. The Nasdaq composite index gained 2.5 points to 2,603.25.

Investors are awaiting the midmorning release by the Commerce Department of sales data that could bolster the view that the housing market is starting to revive. In January, sales of previously occupied homes reached their highest level in nearly two years.

Also on tap Friday is the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan's consumer sentiment index, which has been rising in recent months as the job market has improved.

Optimism about the U.S. economic recovery helped lift shares in Europe as well. A strengthening U.S. economy could provide a boost to Europe.

Finance ministers from the leading 20 industrial and developing nations meet this weekend in Mexico, where the European debt crisis is likely to be on the top of the agenda.

In London, the FTSE 100 index rose 0.36 percent to 5,937.89 and Germany's DAX gained 0.52 percent 6,845.11. The CAC-40 in France added 0.46 percent to 3,463.04.

Earlier in Asia, Japan's Nikkei 225 climbed 0.5 percent to close at 9,647.38 and South Korea's Kospi added 0.6 percent to 2,019.89. Hong Kong's Hang Seng rose 0.1 percent to close at 21,406.86.

U.S. stocks to watch Friday include J.C. Penney Co., which posted a fourth-quarter loss, and Deckers Outdoor Corp., which was downgraded after projecting weakness in 2012 due to rising costs. Also getting attention was Salesforce.com, which reported 38 percent revenue growth for its fiscal fourth quarter, and offered an outlook that projected revenue ahead of Wall Street expectations for its current quarter.

Investors will also keep an eye on the price of oil, which earlier reached a new nine-month high above $108 a barrel, despite signs that demand in the U.S. is weak.

The price spike is being driven by concerns that tensions with Iran over its nuclear program will disrupt global supplies. Analysts have said the increases seemed linked more to speculation about possible future supply deficits than any actual shortages.