US stock futures rise, key inflation figure tame

NEW YORK (AP) ? U.S. stock futures rose Friday after the government reported that a sharp jump in gas prices drove a measure of U.S. consumer costs higher in February but that inflation stayed mild away from the gas pump.

Dow Jones industrial futures rose 37 points to 13,209. The broader Standard & Poor’s 500 futures were up 4 points to 1,400. Nasdaq 100 futures rose 7 points to 2,719.

The market has rallied on upbeat U.S. economic data and easing worries about European debt, despite some concern over the rise in oil prices. On Thursday, the Standard & Poor’s 500 index closed above 1,400 for the first time since June 2008.

On Friday, the Labor Department said the consumer price index rose 0.4 percent in February, the largest increase in 10 months. Gas prices rose 6 percent to account for most of the gain.

Food prices were unchanged for the first time in 19 months. And excluding food and energy, so-called “core” prices rose just 0.1 percent.

Later Friday, the focus will be on the industrial production figures as well as the closely watched University of Michigan consumer confidence survey.

European stocks eked out some modest gains Friday. The FTSE 100 index of leading British shares was up 0.4 percent at 5,963 while the CAC-40 in France rose 0.1 percent to 3,582. Germany’s DAX was 0.1 percent higher too at 7,154.

The euro was underperforming, however, as the dollar continues to garner support from the improving U.S. economic picture ? it was trading 0.2 percent lower at $1.3055.

One growing concern in the markets is what is happening with the price of oil. Rising oil prices raise inflation worries as well as potentially derailing the recovery picture.

On Thursday, oil prices swung wildly, with the benchmark New York rate dropping around $3 a barrel at one stage on reports that the U.S. and Britain had agreed to release spare supplies of oil in an effort to drive fuel prices lower. However, White House press secretary Jay Carney said there was no plan to release supplies and oil prices recovered much of their losses and are currently trading around the $105 a barrel mark.

Earlier in Asia, Asian shares took a breather following a strong run earlier this week.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 index closed slightly higher at 10,129.83 after morning profit-taking sent the benchmark into negative territory. The Nikkei has clocked a week of gains largely due to the yen’s retreat from record highs against the dollar. The dollar was up a further 0.2 percent on the day at 83.73 yen.

Mainland Chinese shares advanced with the benchmark Shanghai Composite Index gaining 1.3 percent to 2,404.74. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng fell 0.2 percent to 21,317.85 and South Korea’s Kospi dropped 0.5 percent to 2,034.44.