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Futures Hold Gains After Retail Sales News

Stock index futures continued to hold gains despite a slightly weaker-than-expected rise in retail sales for March.

Futures already showed signs the market would rebound from a commodity-led swoon in the previous session.

Retail sales rose 0.4 percent in March, the Commerce Department said on Wednesday. The gain was the weakest since last June, when sales fell 0.3 percent. Economists surveyed by Reuters had forecasted sales to rise 0.5 percent in March.

Excluding autos, retail sales rose 0.8 percent in March compared with a 1.1 percent gain in February.

The market also received a boost from JP Morgan Chase, after the second-largest U.S. bank delivered strong results, including earnings of $1.28 per share.

Commodities were on the mend after a brutal trading day that sent oil plunging about 4 percent and the rest of the spectrum down sharply as well.

A call from Goldman Sachs advising clients to shed their long oil positions help trigger the sell-off, but some traders viewed it as simply a chance to take profits and get back in at a lower level.

London Brent crude rose above $121 a barrel, while U.S. light crude rose above $106. Gold roseabove $1,460 an ounce, while the dollar slipped against a basket of major currencies.

Also in economic news economic news, the Mortgage Banking Association said applications for mortgages and refinancings fell 6.7 percent last week to their lowest levelsince January as interest rates rose.

February business inventories due to be published at 10 am New York time, are expected to rise by 0.8 percent according to Briefing.com. Crude inventories are due at 10:30 am.

Investors were waiting for a pivotal speech by President Obama in which the he will explain his vision for tacking the long term US deficit. The President is due speak at 1:30 pm New York time. (The speech will be streamed live on CNBC.com).

The speech follows an agreement on the federal budget on Friday between the White House and Congress. But president Obama still wants Congress to raise the country's borrowing limit before a $14.3 trillion debt ceiling is reached as early as mid May.

The Federal Reserve releases its Beige Book of regional economic conditions at 2 p.m.

On Tap This Week:

WEDNESDAY: Business inventories, oil inventories, 10-year Treasury note auction, Beige Book, United Technologies shareholder meeting; earnings from JPMorgan before-the-bell.
THURSDAY: Weekly jobless claims, PPI, 30-year Treasury bond auction, Kocherlakota speaks, Plosser speaks, Lacker speaks, Nestle shareholder meeting; earnings from Hasbro before-the-bell and Google after-the-bell.
FRIDAY: CPI, Empire state manufacturing survey, Treasury international capital, industrial production, consumer sentiment, credit card default rates reported; Evans speaks, Hoenig speaks, G24/International Monetary Affairs meeting; Earnings from Bank of America and Mattel before-the-bell.

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