* Retail sales, U.Mich consumer sentiment survey headline
* U.S., Russia to push for new Syria peace talks
* Intel climbs in premarket after upgrade
* Futures: Dow up 15 pt, S&P up 0.2 pt, Nasdaq up 4.75 pts
By Chuck Mikolajczak
NEW YORK, Sept 13 U.S. stock index futures were
little changed on Friday, ahead of data on retail sales and
consumer sentiment that may help investors assess the
probability the Federal Reserve may trim its stimulus measures
Data expected at 8:30 a.m. (1230 GMT) includes retail sales
and the producer price index for August. Retail sales
expectations call for a 0.4 percent rise compared with a 0.2
percent increase in July. PPI is expected to climb 0.2 percent
versus the unchanged July reading.
The S&P 500 is up 1.7 percent for the week and has
risen in seven of the past eight sessions, as fears about
military action by the West against Syria receded and data
showed China's economy may be improving.
Later in the session at 9:55 a.m. (1355 GMT), investors will
eye the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan preliminary
consumer sentiment index for September. Economists in a Reuters
survey expect a reading of 82.0 compared with 82.1 in the final
The cluster of data may help shape investor opinion on the
potential for a cut in stimulus by the Federal Reserve when it
ends a two-day policy meeting on Sept 18.
The Fed currently purchases $85 billion a month in Treasury
and mortgage bonds in its effort to stimulate the economy. A
Reuters poll on Monday showed economists at a majority of U.S.
primary dealers expect the Fed to announce it will cut its bond
purchases by $10 billion.
However, some recent economic data, including last week's
disappointing payrolls report, has created some uncertainty
surrounding any expected action by the Fed.
"People have resigned themselves to the fact that it is
going to happen. I'm sure there will still be a little
volatility associated with it because there is at least a small
group of participants that believe they may defer," said Mark
Luschini, chief investment strategist at Janney Montgomery Scott
"It's not so much if they are going to do it, but what it is
going to look like - whether it is going to be taper-light,
something more aggressive, and of course along with it and key
will be whatever forward-looking guidance they break the
U.S. crude fell 0.9 percent as concerns about Syria
retreated. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian
Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov agreed on Friday to push again
for an international conference aimed at ending Syria's civil
Business inventories for July are due at 10 a.m. (1400 GMT),
with estimates showing an expected rise of 0.2 percent against
the unchanged June reading.
S&P 500 futures rose 0.2 point and were slightly
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 rose
15 points, and Nasdaq 100 futures added 4.75 points.
Intel Corp shares gained 1.8 percent to $23.04 in
premarket trade after Jefferies boosted its rating on the
chipmaker to "buy" from "hold" and upped its price target to $30
European stocks dipped in early trade, halting their
week-long rally, although the retreat was limited by M&A
activity in the health care sector.
MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan
shed 0.8 percent, pulling further away from a
three-month high and on track for a second losing day after a
10-day winning streak.