Futures remain slightly higher after economic reports
U.S. stock index futures held their slight gains across the board Friday, as investors digested the latest round of economic reports and ahead of next week's Federal Reserve policy meeting.
(Read more: Will Friday the 13th bring bad luck to the market?)
On the economic front, retail sales rose a meager 0.2 percent in August, according to the Commerce Department, suggesting that economic growth slowed in the third quarter. Economists polled by Reuters had expected a gain of 0.4 percent following an increase of 0.4 percent in July.
And producer prices rose 0.3 percent in August as energy costs rebounded, according to the Labor Department. Economist surveyed by Reuters expected a gain of 0.2 percent.
Investors will be looking ahead to the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan preliminary consumer sentiment index for September due at 9:55am ET. Economists in a Reuters survey expect a reading of 82.0 compared with 82.1 in the final August report. And business inventories for July will be reported at 10 am ET, with estimates showing an expected rise of 0.2 percent against the unchanged June reading.
"Risk assets seem to be running out of steam heading into the weekend with a lack of fresh catalysts to keep pushing markets higher. At the same time U.S. economic data continues to suggest that tapering is indeed on track, and this is resulting in a mildly cautious tone for some investors," Stan Shamu, market strategist at IG, said in a research note.
The Federal Reserve holds its two-day policy-setting meeting next week. The central bank currently purchases $85 billion a month in Treasury and mortgage bonds in its effort to stimulate the economy. The latest Reuters poll showed economists at a majority of U.S. primary dealers expect the Fed to announce it will cut its bond purchases by $10 billion.
Meanwhile, worries over Syria lingered as U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov continued talks on disarming Syria's chemical weapons program. After Thursday's meeting, Kerry said pledges of Syria's regime to give up its chemical arms were "simply not enough."
Verizon was upgraded to "overweight" by Evercore Partners on the heels of its purchase of Vodafone's 45-percent stake in Verizon Wireless. According to Dow Jones, BlackRock and Pimco bought at least a quarter of Verizon's record $49 billion bond offering that it will use to refinance the acquisition. Pimco is said to have bought $8 billion, while BlackRock bought about $5 billion.
Intel was upgraded to "buy" from "hold" at Jefferies, which also raised its price target for the chipmaker to $30 from $27 per share.
And late Thursday, Twitter disclosed it had filed for an initial public offering (IPO). Goldman Sachs is the social media messaging site's lead underwriter, sources told CNBC.
(Read more: Twitter spices up market day, before retail sales)
—By CNBC's JeeYeon Park (Follow JeeYeon on Twitter: @JeeYeonParkCNBC)
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