By Peter Nurse
Investing.com -- U.S. stocks are seen opening slightly higher Friday, rallying into the long weekend, helped by a reassessment of the Federal Reserve’s tightening bias as well as some strong retail sector earnings.
The main equity indices on Wall Street posted strong gains Thursday, with the blue-chip Dow Jones Industrial Average closing over 500 points, or 1.6%, higher, while the broad-based S&P 500 gaining 2% and the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite rising 2.7%.
These averages are on track to snap long losing streaks ahead of the Memorial Day holiday, with the Dow and S&P 500 both over 4% higher for the week and the Nasdaq Composite up 3.4% on the week.
Helping the better tone this week has been the take-away from the minutes of the last Federal Reserve meeting, which indicated that the central bank could slow down its tightening if it sees signs inflation is on a downward trend.
This puts the spotlight on the release of the core personal consumption expenditure index , at 8:30 AM ET (1230 GMT), which is the Fed's preferred measure of inflationary trends. This is expected to fall to 4.9% on an annualized basis in April, from 5.2% the previous month.
A batch of strong earnings from the retail sector has also boosted market sentiment this week, with the likes of Macy’s (NYSE: M ), Williams-Sonoma (NYSE: WSM ), Dollar Tree (NASDAQ: DLTR ) and Dollar General (NYSE: DG ) all posting healthy gains.
Retail earnings continue Friday, with Big Lots (NYSE: BIG ) due to report, but there will also be attention on Ulta Beauty (NASDAQ: ULTA ), which reported better-than-expected quarterly results after the close Thursday, and Gap (NYSE: GPS ), which slashed its full-year profit guidance.
Oil prices edged lower Friday, consolidating around a two-month high on expected demand growth at the start of the summer driving season in the United States.
Also propping up the market is the continued expectation that the European Commission will eventually obtain the unanimous support of all 27 bloc member states for its proposed new sanctions against Russia, despite Hungary’s opposition to date.
By 7 AM ET, U.S. crude futures traded 0.4% lower at $113.67 a barrel, after gaining 3.4% during the previous session, while the Brent contract traded 0.4% lower at $113.70, after a gain of 2.7% on Thursday.
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