Stocks: 5 things to know before the open

S&P futures 2014 08 29
Click chart for in-depth premarket data.

U.S. markets are looking to close out the month of August with yet another day of solid gains.

Here are the five things you need to know before the opening bell rings in New York:

1. Amazing August: The major U.S. indexes have climbed up by roughly 3% to 4% over the course of the month, with the S&P 500 hitting record-high levels.

It seems stocks could rise further on Friday -- U.S. stock futures were edging up ahead of the opening bell.

U.S. stocks closed lower Thursday. The S&P 500 lost a few points, closing at 1,997. The Dow and Nasdaq both moved about 0.3% lower.

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2. Russian markets roiled: Investors are taking notice after NATO published satellite images showing evidence of Russian troops inside Ukraine.

The ruble was off by about 0.3% versus the U.S. dollar on Friday. It's fallen by 10.5% since the start of the year.

Russia's benchmark Micex was also lower by 0.5%. Over the course of 2014 the index has fluctuated wildly -- it's off by about 6% since the start of January.

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3. European overview: Major markets across Europe were higher in early trading.

Fresh monthly data from Eurostat showed that European inflation remains tepid and unemployment in the euro area is stuck at 11.5%. The numbers are likely to feed expectations that the European Central Bank will be forced to embark upon a stimulus program to support the economy.

4. Worries about Japan: Japanese markets were soft Friday after more weak data failed to support the country's Abenomics revival plan.

"Japanese markets are down following a raft of negative data. Further declines in household consumption indicate that the increase in sales tax is hitting Japanese households hard," said Tom Beevers, CEO of StockViews.

Most other Asian markets closed the week with some gains.

5. U.S. economic reports: The U.S. government will report personal income and spending numbers at 8:30 a.m. ET. The University of Michigan will release the final reading of its consumer sentiment index for August at 9:55 a.m.

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