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US futures up on strong retail sales report
US futures rise after stronger-than-expected retail sales report
By The Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) ' Stock futures rose on growing evidence of resilient spending by consumers and investors expect more of the same later Monday in a government report on businesses.

Dow Jones industrial average futures jumped 82 points to 12,870 on the retail report and Standard & Poor's 500 index futures rose 7.8 points to 1,372.8. Nasdaq composite futures rose 15 points to 2,708.5.

Retail sales rose 0.8 percent in March, signaling that not even skyrocketing gas prices could put a damper on the mood of the American consumer.

Retail sales hit a record high of $411.1 billion, 24 percent higher than the recession low hit in March 2009.

Later on Monday, the government is expected to report that U.S. companies are rebuilding their stockpiles in anticipation of higher sales.

Economists expect business inventories rose 0.6 percent in February, according to a survey by FactSet.

Many had expected restocking by businesses would slow at the start of the year, curbing growth. That, however, has not happened.

Also on Monday, Citigroup reported a profit of $2.9 billion. While short of many analyst expectations, the bank was able to add more than $1 billion from its reserves with more customers paying off loans on time.

Meanwhile, stocks in Europe posted modest gains by midday even as worries persisted about European debt, especially in Spain where it borrowing costs rose amid concerns that Madrid may eventually need a bailout.

Germany's DAX was up 0.5 percent at 6,615.21 while France's CAC40 rose 0.6 percent to 3,208.95. Britain's FTSE 100 was up 0.5 percent at 5,679.28.

Asian markets closed mostly lower, however, as traders focused on data released Friday showing China's economy slowed to a 8.1 percent growth rate in the January-March quarter, the slowest in almost three years. In the fourth quarter, growth was 8.9 percent.

Japan's Nikkei slid 1.4 percent to 9,502.95, bruised also by a higher yen.

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