Futures Push Higher on Retail Strength

U.S. stock index futures added to gains Friday after stronger-than-expected retail sales numbers for February backed hopes that consumers are recovering.

The government said sales grew 0.3 percent despite a drop in auto sales and crippling snowstorms expected to weigh on economic numbers for the month. Futures added to positive numbers as the week draws to a close.

Asian stocks closed mixed as China is struggling to strike a monetary policy balance, while European shares were higher as production data from the euro zone showed the region may be in for a stronger-than-expected recovery.

In other economic news, the University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index will be out at 9:55 am and analysts expect it to edge higher to 74 in March versus February's 73.6.

President Barack Obama is likely to tap San Francisco Federal Reserve Bank President Janet Yellen as vice chairman of the Fed, according to a CNBC source. Yellen is known for her dovish stance on monetary policy. She will replace Donald Kohn, a 40-year veteran of the Fed who will retire on June 23.

In merger and acquisition news, Norway's Yara International said it would not raise its bid for Terra Industries , leaving the way open for CF Industries Holdings to buy Terra.

Business inventories data for January will be released at 10 am and analysts expect them to have risen 0.1 percent, reversing a 0.2 percent fall in December.