Futures Inch off Lows on Retail Sales

Stock index futures were lower on Thursday but well off session lows as Wall Street weighed stronger-than-expected retail sales data against a report showing wholesale inflation rose more than expected.

Stocks were already trading lower before the release of the economic indicators, as doubts set in about a plan by the Federal Reserve and other central banks to thaw frozen credit markets.

Higher-than-expected earnings from Lehman Brothers (LEH.N: Quote, Profile, Research) failed to ease concerns about the impact of the credit crisis on the financial sector.

S&P 500 futures were down 11.6 points, below fair value, a mathematical formula that evaluates pricing by taking into account interest rates, dividends and time to expiration on the contract.

Dow Jones industrial average futures fell 85 points, and Nasdaq 100 futures lost 18.75 points.

Retail sales jumped 1.2 percent last month, versus the 0.6 percent gains economists had forecast, suggesting holiday shoppers coped with high energy costs and the fallout from a housing slump.

Data showed U.S. producer prices surged at the highest rate in 34 years last month on a record rise in gas prices, the Labor Department said. Stripping out food and energy prices, the gain in wholesale prices was 0.4 percent, which was above the 0.2 percent economists were forecasting.

Futures Inch off Lows on Retail Sales

12/13/2007 7:06:28 AM