* 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 (Reuters) - 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 next week.
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 York.
“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 August report.
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 war.
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 per share.