U.S. stock-index futures trimmed losses Thursday, after August retail sales showed an unexpected rise and a measure of activity in the Philadelphia Federal Reserve district came in stronger than expected.

What’s happening

Futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average
YM00,
+0.02%

rose 12 points, or less than 0.1%, to 34,713.

S&P 500 futures
ES00,
-0.13%

slipped 5 points, or 0.1%, to 4,467.

Nasdaq-100 futures
NQ00,
-0.33%

weakened 45 points, or 0.3%, to 15,451.50.

On Wednesday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average
DJIA,
+0.68%

rose 236.82 points, or 0.68% to 34814.39, the S&P 500
SPX,
+0.85%

increased 37.65 points, or 0.85% to 4480.70, and the Nasdaq Composite
COMP,
+0.82%

gained 123.77 points, or 0.82% to 15161.53.

What’s driving markets

Stock index futures found support after data showed August retail sales rose 0.7%, defying forecasts for a 0.7% fall. Excluding autos, sales jumped 1.8%, compared with expectations for a rise of 0.2%.

Support was also tied to a jump in the Philadelphia Fed’s activity index, which jumped to 30.7 in September from 19.4 a month earlier. At the same time, data showed first-time claims for unemployment benefits rose more than expected in the week ending Sept. 11, though continuing claims fell.

Ahead of the data, Tom Porcelli, chief U.S. economist at RBC Capital Markets, said the retail-sales data does a better job of capturing goods spending than services. “The consumer is in very fine shape from a balance sheet perspective; thus, they have the means to drive spending,” he said.

The debate over the need for booster shots continues, with the Food and Drug Administration saying the currently administered vaccines provide sufficient protection against severe disease and death from COVID-19, while vaccine maker Moderna
MRNA,
+1.58%

says effectiveness wanes over time.

A rise in European natural gas prices is starting to be felt also, with CF Industries
CF,
+5.03%

saying it will have to shutter its two U.K. plants while natural-gas prices are high.

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