US STOCKS-Futures rise ahead of retail data,J.C. Penney up early
* J.C. Penney up in premarket, Ackman resigns from board
* Retail sales data on tap, seen rising 0.3 percent
* Yum Brands lower as sales in China fall steeply
* Futures up: Dow 39 pts, S&P 3.3 pts, Nasdaq 7 pts
NEW YORK, Aug 13 (Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures rose on Tuesday, indicating a rebound as investors looked ahead to the latest economic data and sought bargains following an extended period of weakness.
The S&P 500 has fallen for five of the past six sessions, and last week posted its worst week since June. Those declines came as investors found few reasons to buy with major indexes near record highs and earnings season winding down.
Wall Street has struggled for direction in the past month. Since July 11, the S&P 500 has traded in a narrow range, with its peak barely 2 percent higher than its trough.
The July read on U.S. retail sales is due at 8:30 a.m. on Tuesday, with sales seen rising 0.3 percent. July import and export prices will be released at the same time, with both seen rising modestly.
"We're looking for the data to confirm a trend of continued improvement in the economy. That bodes well for more new highs being set this year," said Oliver Pursche, president of Gary Goldberg Financial Services in Suffern, New York.
"The longer we stay in the range we've been in, the less significant the risk of a major pullback."
Recent economic data has also been mixed, raising questions about the Federal Reserve's monetary stimulus program, which the central bank said it could begin to ease next month if economic growth meets its targets. The policy has been credited with fueling the S&P's gain of nearly 19 percent so far this year.
But based on Monday's close, the S&P 500 is 1.2 percent below its all-time high, reached earlier this month.
J.C. Penney Co rose 1.7 percent to $13.40 in premarket trading after the retailer said William Ackman has resigned from its board. Ackman, who runs the hedge fund Pershing Square, has been pushing Penney to oust its chairman and chief executive.
"If you're an aggressive investor, this could be viewed as a catalyst to get in J.C. Penney," Pursche said. "We've been considering it as a valuation and turnaround play."
S&P 500 futures rose 3.3 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 added 39 points and Nasdaq 100 futures rose 7 points.
Overseas shares were also higher, with European shares rising for a fourth straight day to near their highs of the year. Shares in China were modestly higher.
Yum Brands Inc fell 3.3 percent to $72 in premarket trading a day after the fast food chain operator said July China sales slid 13 percent.
With 90 percent of the S&P 500 having reported, 68 percent of companies have topped earnings expectations, while 24 percent have missed. JDS Uniphase Corp is the only S&P 500 company scheduled to report quarterly results on Tuesday.
The Dow and the S&P 500 dipped on Monday, extending recent losses, but gains in Apple Inc and BlackBerry kept the Nasdaq slightly higher.