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Futures dip in big week for retail

Traders Daniel Trimble, left, and Christopher Morie on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange Monday, April 29, 2013. Japan's stock market jumped Monday May 13, 2013 to its highest close in more than five years after global finance leaders gave a seal of approval to the country's stimulus program and refrained from criticizing its weakening effect on the yen. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

NEW YORK (AP) -- Stock futures slipped Monday to begin a week loaded with hints about the health of the country's retailers.

Americans boosted spending at retail stores in April, according to the Commerce Department, surprising some economists. Earlier declines on major markets were cut in half after the report.

Dow Jones industrial futures fell 18 points to 15,050. S&P futures lost 2 points to 1,627.50. Nasdaq futures fell 4 points to 2,971.50.

Retail sales edged up 0.1 percent in April. That's an improvement from the 0.5 percent decline in March, the largest in nine months.

There's been a growing consensus that higher Social Security taxes which kicked in at the start of the year would cool spending.

It's impossible to say with certainty that the report Monday would have been healthier without the tax hike, but shares of retailers edged higher in premarket trading.

A number of big chains are posting earnings this week, including beleaguered J.C. Penney.

Macy's posts earnings on Wednesday, followed by Wal-Mart, Nordstrom and J.C. Penney on Thursday.

J.C. Penney is trying to recover from a disastrous run under former Apple executive Ron Johnson, who was ousted last month. Analysts expect losses of $1.06 per share for the first quarter.

Shares of J.C. Penney rose 4 percent in premarket trading Monday.