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On data-heavy day, retail sales will be key

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Fed policy could be swayed by this report

August retail sales should come in better than July's and show that consumers spent on cars, while they saved money on gasoline.

Retail sales, released at 8:30 a.m. ET, is the most important data point since last Friday's disappointing jobs report showed just 142,000 jobs were created in August, far short of expectations and the first sub-200,000 payrolls figure in seven months. Other data expected Friday include import prices at 8:30 a.m., consumer sentiment at 9:55 a.m., and business inventories at 10 a.m.

But traders will likely give the most consideration to the retail sales report, viewing it as another piece of evidence, either in support of a growing economy, or in line with the poor jobs report, which most economists are calling an anomaly. "It'll be indicative of the state of consumer spending. We know comparatively we had a weak reading in the month before…this month will show if it's an aberration or some evidence that it's a pattern," said Janney Montgomery market strategist Mark Luschini.

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