U.S. stock futures rise; focus on retail as Black Friday kicks off

Traders work on the floor of the NYSE

By Yashaswini Swamynathan

(Reuters) – U.S. stock index futures were higher on Black Friday, with the focus on retailers to see if they will propel or hit pause on Wall Street’s record-setting rally.

Trading is expected to be relatively quiet with the U.S. stock market scheduled to close at 1:00 p.m. ET. The market was shut on Thursday for the Thanksgiving holiday.

The three main U.S. indexes have hit all-time highs and closed at record levels multiple times in the past few days, most recently on Wednesday, when industrial stocks boosted the Dow <.DJI> and the S&P 500 <.SPX> to record-high closes.

Thanksgiving and Black Friday kick off the holiday shopping season, which is crucial for retailers as it accounts for as much as 40 percent of annual sales.

Online spending climbed to above $1 billion by Thanksgiving evening, surging almost 14 percent from a year ago, according to Adobe Digital Index.

Shares of Wal-Mart <WMT.N> were up 1.14 percent at $71.64 in light premarket trading. Amazon.com <AMZN.O> inched up 0.32 percent.

China’s Ctrip.com <CTRP.O> jumped 9.5 percent to $44.90 after agreeing to buy UK travel search website Skyscanner in a deal valued at around $1.74 billion.

Johnson & Johnson <JNJ.N> edged up 0.4 percent after Bloomberg reported on Thursday that the healthcare company had approached Swiss biotechnology firm Actelion <ATLN.S> about a potential takeover.

Meanwhile, oil prices fell 1.2 percent amid uncertainty that the OPEC would arrive at a decision to cut production during a meeting next week. The dollar <.DXY> was off 0.28 percent. [O/R]

Futures snapshot at 6:55 a.m. ET:

Dow e-minis <1YMc1> were up 47 points, or 0.25 percent, with 38,976 contracts changing hands.

S&P 500 e-minis <ESc1> were up 3 points, or 0.14 percent, with 158,927 contracts traded.

Nasdaq 100 e-minis <NQc1> were up 5.5 points, or 0.11 percent, on volume of 23,369 contracts.

(Reporting by Yashaswini Swamynathan in Bengaluru; Editing by Savio D’Souza)