Stocks ignore spending, aim at record
Futures point to higher opening despite weaker-than-expected report; techs could take center stage after strong Research in Motion results.

NEW YORK ( -- Stocks were poised to one last shot at breaking the all-time closing record Friday, helped by strong earnings news from the tech sector and despite news of a consumer spending slump in August.

At 9:05 a.m. ET, futures for all three major indexes pointed to a higher open.

But futures were little changed after the Commerce Department reported that spending by consumers rose 0.1 percent in August, compared with a 0.8 percent gain in July.

Economists surveyed by forecast that a gain in personal income of 0.3 percent

The report also revealed that so-called core PCE deflator, which measures prices paid by consumers for goods other than food and energy was up 0.2 percent in the month, compared to the 0.1 percent rise in July.

The reading, which is one of the Federal Reserve's favored measure of inflation, was in line with economists' expectations.

Research in Motion (Charts) delivered some positive news for the tech sector late Thursday after the BlackBerry maker reported better-than-expected second-quarter profits, even though the company also announced a review of stock options practices.

The Dow Jones industrial average starts the day less than 5 points from its all-time closing high.

While the Dow once again just missed the record high close of of 11,722.98 in trading Thursday it did briefly top that level before retreating slightly to close up slightly on the day. But it never reached the record intra-day high of 11.750.28, which is now also within reach on the last trading day of the quarter. Both the trading and closing highs were hit Jan. 14, 2000.

Oil eased. U.S. light crude fell 53 cents to $62.23 a barrel in electronic trading, while Brent crude traded in London was 55 cents lower at $61.99.

Treasury prices were little changed, with the yield on the 10-year note slipping at 4.61 percent. The dollar was stronger against the euro and the yen.

Even though the spending report will garner most of investors' attention Friday, two additional economic reports are due out later in the session.

Just after the market open, the University of Michigan will release its latest consumer sentiment index, with economists looking for the revised September reading to edge up to 85 from a preliminary level of 84.4 earlier in the month.

At 10 a.m. ET, a survey of manufacturing executives in the Chicago region is forecast to show a decline to an index reading of 56 from 57.1.

Markets in Asia closed mixed while major indexes in Europe higher in early trading.

In corporate news, Ford Motor (Charts) announced that it will cut one in four workers at its profitable Ford Credit unit and close its branch office network in order to cut costs.

DaimlerChrysler (Charts) is in detailed discussions with China's Chery Automobile to make cars for sale in the United States and other markets and could finalize the deal soon, according to a report on Reuters wire service.

General Motors is set to build a new luxury car, the Buick Royaume, in China, according to a report in the Detroit Free Press. GM has been a leader in Chinese auto sales, the world's fastest growing auto markets, but it has been building small cars there and importing larger cars from the United States.

Friday morning Dell (Charts) announced it was recalling about 100,000 more laptop batteries that were made by Sony (Charts), raising the total recalled to 4.2 million. The announcement comes the day after IBM and computer maker Lenovo announced a recall of 526,000 laptop batteries worldwide made by Sony because of a fire risk.

Sony shares fell 0.8 percent in Japan Friday following the IBM recall but ahead of the latest Dell announcement.


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