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Stock Futures Rise; Retail Sales Inch Higher


NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Stock futures were pointing to a higher open on Wall Street Wednesday as General Electric (GE) shares advanced but they lost a bit of steam following the release of data on U.S. January retail sales.

General Electric shares were gaining nearly 3% in premarket trading as Comcast(CMCSA) reached a deal to buy GE's remaining 49% stake in NBCUniversal for $16.7 billion.

Comcast also raised its quarterly dividend by 20% and reported an 18% increase in fourth-quarter earnings. Comcast shares were jumping more than 8%.

Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average were up 11 points, or 15.30 points above fair value, at 13,984. Futures for the S&P 500 up 2.25 points, or 2.77 points above fair value, at 1518. Futures for the Nasdaq were up 8 points, or 8.78 points above fair value, at 2768.

Major U.S. stock averages ended mixed Tuesday.

President Barack Obama delivered lines Tuesday night in his State of the Union address about how the country has emerged from the rubble of economic crisis, his hope to allow families to more easily refinance their homes and the need for deficit reduction, among other economic issues.

And yet Obama didn't once mention Wall Street, banks or finance.

The Census Bureau reported that retail sales rose by an as-expected 0.1% in January after increasing 0.5% in December. Excluding the auto component, retail sales increased 0.2%, compared with a 0.3% gain in December. That was a bigger increase than the 0.1% rise expected by economists.

"With the payroll tax cut expiring and marginal tax rates increasing for the first time in decades, retail sales were always thought to suffer and suffer they did," said Dan Greenhaus, chief global strategist at BTIG. "Nothing in these numbers should change anyone's expectation for tepid consumer spending in the first quarter of 2013 and more likely, the first half."

The Census Bureau will report December business inventories numbers at 10 a.m. EST.

At 11:10 a.m., St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank President James Bullard will give a speech on the economy and monetary policy to Arkansas State University's agribusiness conference.

The Nikkei in Japan closed down by 1.04% Wednesday as the yen strengthened. The Hong Kong stock exchange remained closed Wednesday for the lunar new year.

The FTSE in London was up 0.16% and the DAX in Frankfurt was up 0.59% after data showed that eurozone industrial production rose more than economists expected in December.

Eurozone industrial production rose 0.7% in December from the prior month, up for the first time since August, according to Eurostat. That's better than the 0.2% increase registered in a Reuters poll of economists.

Gold for April delivery was down $3.50 at $1,646.10 an ounce at the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange, while March crude oil futures were up 11 cents at $97.62 a barrel.