U.S. stock futures were pointing to about a 100-point advance for the Dow Jones Industrial Average at Friday's open on Wall Street. After seven straight positive sessions, the Dow as of Thursday's close was less than 0.7% or about 177 points away from its July closing record high. Ahead of Friday trading, the S&P 500 was about 0.5% away from its July all-time record close. However, the Nasdaq has more ground to make up, still around 1.6% off its July record close.
Friday's August retail sales is the last big economic report before the Federal Reserve begins its two-day meeting Tuesday and Wednesday, at which central bankers are expected to cut interest rates for a second time this year. Retail sales rose a moderate 0.4% last month compared to the healthier 0.8% July gain. Online sales continued to soar, rising 1.6%, roughly the same amount as in July, when Amazon held its Prime Day.
President Donald Trump suggested he would consider an interim trade deal with China, even though he would rather have a full agreement to end the yearlong trade war between the two countries. After Trump's delay of planned tariff rate increases on $250 billion in Chinese goods, Beijing said it plans to exclude American farm goods, including soybeans, from tariffs, in the latest move to ease tensions before high-level trade talks restart next month.
Trump revealed that the White House has a new tax cut in the works for middle-class Americans. "It will be a very, very substantial tax cut for middle-income folks, who work so hard," the president said at a GOP retreat in Baltimore on Thursday night. Trump said it would be announced "sometime in the next year." Talk of new tax cuts comes as the government's budget deficit for fiscal 2019 swelled past the $1 trillion mark in August. That's the first time that level has been eclipsed in seven years.
More than two-thirds of North American chief financial officers surveyed by CNBC said that Trump will win the 2020 election, while a quarter thought former Vice President Joe Biden would win. Thurday night, Biden and nine other Democratic presidential hopefuls were in Texas for their latest primary debate. The candidates, including Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, went after the president on trade. The pile on shows a field more comfortable with picking apart Trump's economic conflict with the world's second-largest economy than they were even a few months ago.
Goldman Sachs significantly cut its price target for Apple's stock, predicting 26% downside from Thursday's $223 close. Goldman cites a "material negative impact" on earnings for the accounting method the iPhone maker will use for an Apple TV+ trial. Goldman, which reduced its 12-month price target on Apple to $165 from $187, wrote in a note, "Effectively, Apple's method of accounting moves revenue from hardware to Services"
— The Associated Press contributed to this report.