After ending the previous session mostly lower, stocks may move back to the upside in early trading on Friday. The major index futures are currently pointing to a higher open for the markets, with the S&P 500 futures up by 12 points.

Early buying may be generated in reaction to a report from the Commerce Department showing an unexpected increase in retail sales in the month of June.

The Commerce Department said retail sales climbed by 0.6 percent in June after plunging by a revised 1.7 percent in May.

The rebound surprised economists, who had expected retail sales to fall by 0.4 percent compared to the 1.3 percent slump originally reported for the previous month.

Excluding a steep drop in sales by motor vehicle and parts dealers, retail sales jumped by an even stronger 1.3 percent in June following a revised 0.9 percent decrease in May.

Economists had been expecting ex-auto sales to increase by 0.4 percent compared to the 0.7 percent drop originally reported for the previous month.

The strong retail sales data my help ease concerns about a slowdown in the pace of the economic recovery due in part to supply constraints.

At the same, time, continued strength in the U.S. economy may lead the Federal Reserve to consider scaling back its asset purchases sooner than expected.

Shortly after the start of trading, the University of Michigan is due to release its preliminary reading on consumer sentiment in the month of July. The consumer sentiment index is expected to inch up to 86.5 in July from 85.5 in June.

The Commerce Department is also scheduled to release its report on business inventories in the month of May. Business inventories are expected to rise by 0.5 percent.

Following the lackluster performance seen on Wednesday, stocks moved mostly lower during trading on Thursday. The Nasdaq and the S&P 500 closed in negative territory, although the narrower Dow managed to close modestly higher.

While the Dow rose 53.79 points or 0.2 percent to 34,987.02, the tech-heavy Nasdaq slid 101.82 points or 0.7 percent to 14,543.13 and the S&P 500 fell 14.27 points or 0.3 percent to 4,360.03.

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region turned in a mixed performance during trading on Friday. Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index slumped by 1 percent, while Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index rose by 0.2 percent.

The major European markets have also turned mixed on the day. While the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index is up by 0.1 percent, the German DAX Index is just below the unchanged line and the French CAC 40 Index is down by 0.4 percent.

In commodities trading, crude oil futures are climbing $0.41 to $72.06 a barrel after tumbling $1.48 to $71.65 a barrel on Thursday. Meanwhile, after rising $4 to $1,829 an ounce in the previous session, gold futures are slipping $3.90 to $1,825.10 an ounce.

On the currency front, the U.S. dollar is trading at 110.30 yen versus the 109.83 yen it fetched at the close of New York trading on Thursday. Against the euro, the dollar is valued at $1.1800 compared to yesterday’s $1.1812.

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