Bulls look to continue run
Stock futures climb after key inflation report comes in unchanged. Bernanke's missing words stir interest.
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Stocks looked poised Friday to build on a record-high close for the Dow after a key inflation report showed no rise from the previous month.
Stock futures, which predict the direction of stocks at the open, jumped just after the report.
The Consumer Price Index, a key measure of inflation at the consumer level, was unchanged in November following a 0.5 percent fall in October, the Labor Department said.
The so-called core CPI, which strips out volatile food and energy prices, was also unchanged. (More on the inflation report).
Economists surveyed by Briefing.com had forecast a 0.2 percent rise in both the overall CPI and the core CPI.
In corporate news, Home Depot (Charts), which has been struggling with weak sales and profit outlook due to the slumping homebuilding market, announced after the market close Thursday it authorized the immediate buyback of $3 billion in stock, to be funded with proceeds from a $5 billion debt offering. Shares of the Dow component gained more than 1 percent in after-hours trading.
Computer maker Dell (Charts) said Thursday it would delay filing its quarterly report with securities regulators because of investigations into accounting practices. Shares lost 1 percent in after-hours trading on the news.
General Motors (Charts) is now hoping to reach a labor deal with the United Auto Workers union and bankrupt auto parts maker Delphi by the end of the first quarter, but it may be difficult to meet that deadline, according to an interview that Chief Financial Officer Fritz Henderson gave to The Wall Street Journal.
The potential billions in costs for GM to help reach that deal at its former parts unit has been an cloud on its shares and is one of the reasons the company will not give guidance on a return to profitability in its core auto operations.
Casino operator Harrah's Entertainment (Charts) is weighing offers for the company from smaller operator Penn National (Charts) as well as from private equity firms. The Las Vegas Review Journal is reporting that Penn National's bid could come to $88.50 a share, or about $16.5 billion, a premium of almost 12 percent from Harrah's close Thursday.
Stocks in Asia closed mostly higher, with Japan's Nikkei reaching a seven-month high and indexes in Singapore, Australia and Hong Kong hitting records. The rise was credited to the Bank of Japan's tankan survey, which showed improved business confidence there, but not strong enough to change expectations that central bank will leave interest rates unchanged when it meets next week. Major indexes in Europe were also higher in early trading.
There will also be reports on net foreign purchases in October and industrial production and capacity utilization in November, due just before the market open.