Stocks to open higher after inflation report

@CNNMoneyInvest March 16, 2012: 8:48 AM ET
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NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Stocks were poised to open slightly higher Friday, as investors reacted to the latest reading on inflation, and continued to look for signs that the U.S. economy is on solid footing.

The Dow Jones industrial average (INDU), S&P 500 (SPX) and Nasdaq (COMP) futures rose about 0.2% ahead of the opening bell. Stock futures indicate the possible direction of the markets when they open at 9:30 a.m. ET.

In a monthly report issued before the opening bell, the government said that inflation increased 0.4% in February -- a number in line with expectations.

Investors will continue looking for more of the strong economic figures that have propelled shares higher this week.

Stocks finished higher Thursday, with the S&P 500 topping the 1,400 mark for the first time in nearly four years. The Dow logged its seventh straight day of gains and closed at its highest point since December 2007, while the Nasdaq closed at its highest level since November 2000.

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World markets: European stocks moved higher in morning trading. Britain's FTSE 100 (UKX) and the DAX (DAX) in Germany rose 0.5%, while France's CAC 40 (CAC40) edged higher by 0.3%.

Asian markets ended mixed. The Shanghai Composite (SHCOMP) rose 1.3% and Japan's Nikkei (N225) ticked up 0.1%, while the Hang Seng (HSI) in Hong Kong shed 0.2%.

Economy: Inflation for February increased by 0.4% in February after rising 0.2% the previous month, according to the government's latest numbers.

Higher gasoline prices were the biggest factor in the rise, accounting for more than 80% of the index's increase. The report showed consumer prices were up 2.9% year-over-year.

Industrial production for February is expected to have increased by 0.5%, while the University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index for March is expected to stand at 75.8, up from 75.3 in February.

The case for stocks is getting stronger

Companies: Apple (AAPL, Fortune 500) is scheduled to release the new iPad Friday, and shares were up half a percent in premarket trading. On Thursday, Apple shares touched an all-time high above the $600 per share benchmark, but slipped into the red by afternoon.

Financial stocks were also on the move in premarket trading, with Bank of America (BAC, Fortune 500) up 1.5% while Morgan Stanley (MS, Fortune 500) was off by a little more than 1%.

Currencies and commodities: The dollar lost ground against the British pound, but rose versus the Japanese yen and the euro.

Oil for April delivery rose 56 cents to $105.67 a barrel.

Gold futures for April delivery fell $12.50 to $1,647.10 an ounce.

Bonds: The price on the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury fell, pushing the yield up to 2.34% from 2.28% late Wednesday.  To top of page

Index Last Change % Change
Dow 16,982.59 22.02 0.13%
Nasdaq 4,444.91 -4.65 -0.10%
S&P 500 1,978.91 0.57 0.03%
Treasuries 2.49 0.02 0.89%
Data as of 10:42pm ET
Company Price Change % Change
Apple Inc 99.02 1.99 2.05%
Facebook Inc 74.92 -0.06 -0.08%
Bank of America Corp... 15.50 -0.09 -0.58%
Dollar Tree Inc 54.87 -0.08 -0.15%
Family Dollar Stores... 75.74 15.08 24.86%
Data as of 4:03pm ET
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