Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average YMZ6, +0.17% rose 43 points, or 0.2%, to 17,961.00, while those for the S&P 500 index ESZ6, +0.18% added 5.2 points, or 0.3%, to 2,118.50. Futures for the Nasdaq-100 index NQZ6, +0.27% climbed 11.75 points, or 0.3%, to 4,740.25.
Futures started showing more of an advance as oil futures turned higher, with Brent crude LCOX6, +0.59% up nearly 1%. West Texas Intermediate CLV6, +0.34% was up a more modest 0.3%.
Slumping crude-oil prices weighed on stocks on Wednesday, leaving the Dow industrials DJIA, -0.18% and the S&P 500 SPX, -0.06% to close in negative territory.
Data deluge: But the direction of Thursday’s trading action could come down to a deluge of economic data arriving premarket. In the limelight are retail sales for August, out at 8:30 a.m. Eastern Time, as they work as a bellwether for the broader economy.
Sales have been somewhat soft in 2016, and economists polled by MarketWatch expect August to be no different—they forecast a 0.1% dip last month, slightly weaker than in July. Retail sales excluding volatile auto sales are forecast to have risen 0.2%.
“This won’t be enough to shift markets expectations on a rate move, but an upside surprise is likely to push the U.S. dollar higher,” said Hussein Sayed, chief market strategist at FXTM, in a note.
The ICE dollar index DXY, +0.02% was 0.1% higher at 95.363 in early premarket trade.
Uber has launched a self-driving car pilot program in Pittsburgh, Penn.
Traders are closely watching economic data to gauge whether the readings will move the dial on a rate move from the Fed. The central bank is widely expected to hold fire at its Sept. 20-21 meeting, with the CME FedWatch Tool pointing to an only 15% probability of a rate hike. However, for the December meeting, the probability currently stands at almost 53%.
There won’t be any comments from Fed officials in the run-up to the meeting as the central bank is in its so-called blackout period.
Also on the data docket on Thursday are weekly jobless claims for last week, along with the August Producer Price Index and the July current account figures. The reports are all due out at 8:30 a.m. Eastern.
At the same time, the so-called Philly Fed data—a reading of manufacturing in the Philadelphia region—and the Empire state index for September come out.
At 9:15 a.m. Eastern, industrial production and capacity utilization for August are released, followed by business inventories for July at 10 a.m. Eastern.
See: MarketWatch’s economic calendar
Movers and shakers: Shares of Aerie Pharmaceuticals Inc. AERI, +7.53% soared 57% in thin premarket trade after the drug discovery company’s treatment for lowering fluid pressure inside the eyeball yielded promising results.
Apple Inc. AAPL, +3.54% climbed 1% ahead of the bell, set for a fourth straight day of gains. The tech giant has been among best performing shares this week, following strong demand for its new iPhones and upbeat broker comments. Apple also tends to do well in times of market volatility, which as been a major theme this week.
Oracle Corp. ORCL, +0.17% is set to report quarterly earnings after the market close. Read:Oracle earnings clouded by NetSuite acquisition uncertainty
Other markets: Stocks in Asia closed mixed, with Japan’s Nikkei Stock Average NIK, -1.26% sliding as a stronger yen USDJPY, +0.05% put pressure on exporters. Markets in South Korea, China and Taiwan closed for a public holiday.
European markets were treading water waffling after the Bank of England held interest rates steady on Thursday.
Metals prices were mostly lower, with gold GCZ6, -0.14% off 0.2% at $1,323.40 an ounce.