Stock futures move higher ahead of building data

NEW YORK (AP) — Stock futures bounced back Friday from consecutive days of significant declines, with more evidence of a rebounding U.S. housing market.

Developers ramped up construction in July, partly reversing a notable decline in June.

Dow Jones industrial futures rose 14 points to 15,084. The broader S&P futures added 3 points to reach 1,658.70. Nasdaq futures tacked on 7.25 points to 3,078.25.

Last month, builders initiated work on houses and apartments at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 896,000.

While that’s slightly below forecasts, it’s still up 6 percent from June. Construction peaked in March at slightly more than a million.

Applications for permits used for future home construction also rose, though mostly because of volatile apartment construction. Permits for single-family homes actually fell 2 percent.

U.S. markets have been hammered this week by disconcerting reports from retailers and it’s unlikely that a stock rally Friday will put major indexes into positive territory for the week, or for the month to date.

On Thursday, Wal-Mart and Nordstrom pulled back on their expectations for the year, a day after Macy’s did the same.

Gloomy numbers from the country’s biggest names in retail has cast a pall over markets as the sector heads into the meat of its earnings season.

J.C. Penney, Target, the Gap, Home Depot, Best Buy, Barnes & Noble, Saks, Staples and Sears all report quarterly earnings next week.

How retailers are doing can telegraph the mood of the American consumer, and that is closely watched by economists because consumer spending drives about 70 percent of all economic activity in the country.

Americans may ramp up spending in the next few weeks, but a dawdling entry into the crucial back-to-school shopping season clearly darkened the mood on Wall Street this week.

The Dow Jones and the S&P are down about 2 percent. The tech-heavy Nasdaq is down only 1.5 percent, thanks in part to a surge in the price for shares of Apple.

But the tech sector has not gone unscathed either this week.

Cisco, the computer networking company, said Wednesday that it was cutting about 4,000 jobs and its CEO, John Chambers, called the global economy “challenging and inconsistent.”

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