NEW YORK -
Stocks were poised to open higher on Friday, putting the S&P 500 on track for a fourth straight gain and adding to equities' advance Thursday in the wake of an aggressive plan by the Federal Reserve to stimulate the economy.
The Federal Reserve launched another stimulus program Thursday, its third quantitative easing measure, saying it would pump $40 billion into the U.S. economy each month until the jobs market showed sustained growth.
Retail sales rose 0.9 percent in August, advancing for a second straight month, boosted by automobiles and high gasoline prices, but the underlying tone pointed to modest economic growth in the third quarter.
"When you start to decompose the look of what happened in the retail number, people are going to start to back away a little bit; although the numbers weren't any surprise, they were pretty much on consensus," said Sandy Lincoln, chief market strategist at BMO Asset Management U.S. in Chicago.
"It (also) adds a little bit of additional credibility and validity, if anybody needed it, for what (Fed Chairman Ben) Bernanke did yesterday."
Consumer prices rose 0.6 percent in August, the most in three years as the cost of gasoline jumped, but there was little sign of a pick-up in underlying inflation pressures, which should allow the Federal Reserve to stay on its ultra-easy policy path.
Industrial output fell 1.2 percent in August, the most in more than three years as production slowed in factories and a hurricane temporarily shut down oil and natural gas rigs in the Gulf of Mexico. Analysts polled by Reuters had expected industrial output to be flat last month.
The Fed announcement Thursday pushed the Dow and S&P 500 to their highest levels since December 2007 and the Nasdaq to its highest close since November 2000.
It also pushed the dollar <.DXY> down 0.5 percent, boosting commodities by raising the allure of those priced in a weaker U.S. currency. Freeport-Mcmoran Copper & Gold Inc
S&P 500 futures rose 3.9 points and were 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 gained 33 points, and Nasdaq 100 futures added 9 points.
S&P Dow Jones Indices said UnitedHealth Group Inc
The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan Surveys of Consumers will release the preliminary September consumer sentiment index at 9:55 a.m. EDT (1355 GMT). Economists in a Reuters survey expect a reading of 74.0 compared with 74.3 in the final August report.
At 10:00 a.m. EDT (1400 GMT), the Commerce Department issues Business Inventories for July, with economists in a Reuters survey expecting a rise of 0.3 percent versus a 0.1 percent rise in June.
Honeywell International Inc
(Editing by Bernadette Baum)