Pre-Market Primer: Stocks Rise on Core Retail Sales Gains; Bill Ackman Bows Out of JC Penney Board

By Vincent Trivett  AUG 13, 2013 8:56 AM

George Soros did not agree with Bill Ackman's demands for a new director and CEO.

 


US stock futures are rising this morning as core retail sales show strength in the consumer sector.

Retail sales in the US rose 0.2% in July, missing expectations of 0.3%. This was the fourth straight month of gains. Excluding autos and gas, core retail sales rose 0.5%, which is better than economists' forecasts. June's increase was upwardly revised to 0.6%.

The government also reported that July import prices rose 1% and export prices rose 0.4% from a year ago.

Stock index futures rose before the opening bell. Dow (INDEXDJX:.DJI) futures were up 0.29% at 15,431. Futures contracts on the S&P 500 (INDEXSP:.INX) rose 0.23% to 1,691.00 and Nasdaq (INDEXNASDAQ:.IXIC) futures climbed 0.22% to 3,130.75.

Later this morning, we will get June business inventories, which are expected to rise 0.2% after gaining 0.1% in May. Atlanta Fed chief Dennis Lockhart will deliver a speech on economic outlook at 12:45 p.m.

Stocks also got a lift from overseas gains. Japan's Nikkei (INDEXNIKKEI:NI225) jumped 2.57% as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe pushed to cut the corporate tax rate and raise the sales tax. The Bank of Japan's minutes also urged the government to proceed with doubling the sales tax rate to 10% despite slowing growth. The central bank sees this as key to defeating deflation.

Following Japan's lackluster GDP report, machine orders fell 2.7% in June. This followed a 10.5% monthly rise, but economists feared that orders would crash 7.5%.

European shares also rose with some upbeat economic data. Germany's closely watched ZEW survey shows that financial experts are more optimistic about current and future conditions. The index for future outlook rose to 42 from 36.3 in August. current situation was rated 18.3, up from 10.6 last month. Eurozone industrial production came up short of expectations in June, rising 0.7%. Compared to last year, output is up 0.3%.

This morning, JC Penney (NYSE:JCP) shares rose 1.9% after hedge fund manager Bill Ackman resigned from the company board. Last night, the struggling retailer said that it will name a new director with experience in the sector in an apparent effort to appease Ackman, who is still the single largest shareholder. The activist investor had been pressuring JC Penney to oust Chairman Thomas Engibous and CEO Myron Ullman. Engibous and Ullman had the support of George Soros, another major JC Penney stakeholder. Ackman will not be able to sell his stake for months due to the inside information that he possesses.

Yum Brands (NYSE:YUM) dove 3.5% this morning after announcing that July sales in China sank 13%.

Twitter: @vincent_trivett
No positions in stocks mentioned.

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