US futures rise after retail report

Associated Press
FILE - In this Friday, March 1, 2013, file photo, specialist Peter Elkins works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. World stock markets ran out of steam Wednesday March 13, 2013 after a sharp drop in Britain's industrial production and a warning from the head of Germany's central bank that the euro debt crisis isn't over. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)
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NEW YORK (AP) — Stock futures erased early losses Wednesday after government data revealed a surprisingly resilient American consumer that was barely slowed by the sting of tax hikes and higher gas prices.

Dow Jones industrial futures rose 5 points to 14,391. The broader S&P futures have gained 1.1 points to 1,547.90. Nasdaq futures rose 1.25 points to 2,799.25.

Americans spent their money in stores at the fastest clip in five months, according to the Commerce Department, a strong showing even when higher gas prices are stripped from the equation.

Retail spending rose 1.1 percent compared with January. About half the jump reflected higher gas prices, but excluding gas purchases, retail sales rose 0.6 percent.

Economists had predicted a much more modest increase of 0.2 percent in February, with higher payroll taxes cutting into take-home pay nationwide.

That Americans came out in force is especially surprising given some seemingly lackluster sales figures posted by retailers just last week.

Later on Wednesday, the government is expected to report that new taxes and a healing economy drove down the federal deficit compared with last year. While the deficit likely grew sharply from January to February, it is believed to have remained below last year's pace.

The annual deficit now looks like it will come in below $1 trillion, the first time that has happened under President Barack Obama.

If the Dow is in positive territory at the end of the trading day, it would mean the ninth-straight day of gains, extending the longest winning streak in two years.

Markets overseas are mixed.

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