* Retail sales up but below expectations
* Producer Price Index shows tame inflation
* U.S., Russia to push for new Syria peace talks
* Intel climbs in premarket trading after upgrade
* Futures: Dow up 20 pts, S&P up 0.9 pt, Nasdaq up 4.25 pts
By Chuck Mikolajczak
NEW YORK, Sept 13 U.S. stocks were poised for a
slightly higher open on Friday, after retail sales and wholesale
inflation data did little to alter market expectations the
Federal Reserve may begin to scale back its stimulus measures
Retail sales rose 0.2 percent in August, below economists'
expectations of a 0.4 percent increase and the 0.4 percent climb
in July. Sales were weaker than expected despite increased
demand for automobiles and other big-ticket items and added to
other signs that economic growth slowed in the third quarter.
In a separate report, producer prices rose 0.3 percent in
August, slightly above expectations of a 0.2 percent increase as
energy prices rose. However, the Producer Price Index excluding
volatile food and energy costs was unchanged.
The Fed is widely expected to announce a reduction in
stimulus when it ends a two-day policy meeting on Wednesday.
"These were the two big numbers, the PPI and retail sales
and I don't think either of them change the outlook, which our
base case is the Fed goes in and begins the (tapering) process
here on the Sept. 17-18 meeting," said Darrell Cronk, regional
chief investment officer at Wells Fargo Private Bank in New
"We'll do a little bit of moving sideways probably, at least
until we see the Fed meeting next week."
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 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.
U.S. crude fell 0.6 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 0.9 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
20 points, and Nasdaq 100 futures added 4.25 points.
Intel Corp shares gained 1.9 percent to $23.07 in
premarket trade after Jefferies boosted its rating on the
chipmaker to "buy" from "hold" and upped its price target to $30