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Futures Edge Higher, Retailers in Focus

Thursday's losses notwithstanding, Wall Street's major averages enter the Friday session with a chance to finish off their second consecutive week of gains.

As has been the case often, recently, the market's direction will likely be tied to movements in the U.S. dollar as well as indications of how retailers are doing and how the holiday shopping season might go.

Futures held their gains following economic reports showing the US trade deficit swelling to its highest level in more than 10 years and import prices climbing 0.7 percent.

In earnings, Abercrombie & Fitch and J.C. Penney both pleased investors, the former with profit and the latter with outlook. Penney's shares were up 5.6 percent premarket while Abercrombie & Fitch gained more than 7 percent in premarket trading.

After the bell late yesterday, Nordstrom reported third-quarter profit that was below Wall Street consensus but did raise its full year guidance. We'll also watch shares of Dow component Walt Disney, which beat consensus with its earnings that came out after the bell Thursday. Disney shares rose 2 percent premarket.

At 9:55 am, the University of Michigan is out with its preliminary November read on consumer sentiment, with its monthly index seen coming in at 71.5, compared to the final October reading of 70.6.

Chicago Federal Reserve President Charles Evans will be participating in a panel discussion on monetary policy in Paris, scheduled for 10:30 am, while New York Fed President William Dudley will have a speech at 8:30 pm at an event at Princeton University.

British Airways and Iberia have announced a preliminary agreement for a $7 billion merger that would create the world's third-largest airline by revenue. The companies hope to close the deal by the end of 2010.

Also in the news:

IMF managing director Dominique Strauss-Kahn says although the pace of the U.S. recovery seems sluggish, he does not see a double-dip recession.

Winterizing Your Portfolio - A CNBC Special Report
Winterizing Your Portfolio - A CNBC Special Report

New data shows the euro zone moved out of recession during the third quarter, although not at the pace that some economists had expected.

Saudi Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi says the Saudis will double their oil refining capacity by 2015.

— Written by Peter Schacknow, Senior Producer, CNBC

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