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U.S. stocks head toward moderatel higher open

U.S. stocks headed for a moderately higher open Wednesday after retail sales showed the largest increase in 16 months, signaling higher gas prices might not be hitting consumers as hard as some on Wall Street had feared.

The rise in stock futures, which comes following a pullback in the previous session, also follows a decline in bond yields from five-year highs. Rising bond yields amid inflation concerns have pummeled stocks since last week.

The economic findings arriving Wednesday come after a relative lull in data that left Wall Street wanting for fresh indicators about the strength of the economy.

The Commerce Department found that retail sales jumped 1.4 percent in May, which was double the increase analysts had been expecting. Retail sales fell by 0.1 percent in April.

Among other data due Wednesday, the Federal Reserve is expected to issue its Beige Book, which describes economic conditions in regions around the country and arrives two weeks before the central bank's next meeting.

Dow Jones industrial futures expiring in September rose 8, or 0.23 percent, to 13,452, while Standard & Poor's 500 index futures rose 0.90, or 0.06 percent, to 1,508.40. Nasdaq 100 index futures advanced 1.25, or 0.07 percent, to 1,919.25. The moves follow a nearly 130 point drop in the Dow on Tuesday and similar pullbacks, in percentage terms, in the S&P and Nasdaq.

Bond yields, whose advance caused a pullback in stocks last week and again Tuesday, rose Wednesday. The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note rose to 5.28 percent from 5.295 percent Tuesday.

Last week, investors regarded inflation levels that appeared defiantly above the Federal Reserve's comfort level as a sign that the central bank wouldn't cut short-term interest rates. As yields move in the opposite direction of bond prices, market interest rates soared. The 10-year Treasury yield climbed above 5 percent for the first time since last summer.

In corporate news, Neurocrine Biosciences Inc. said late Tuesday it resubmitted an application for its insomnia treatment candidate, called indiplon, to the Food and Drug Administration. The application is for the 5-milligram and 10-milligram dose. The agency rejected a 15 milligram dose of the drug in May 2006.

Rentrak Corp., which provides DVDs and video games to video rental stores, late Tuesday reported stronger-than-expected fiscal fourth quarter profits.

A. Schulman Inc., a supplier of high-performance plastics and resins, lowered its 2007 forecast amid continued weakness in the European and North American markets.

Overseas, stocks mainly showed declines. Japan's Nikkei stock average fell 0.16 percent. Britain's FTSE 100 rose 0.30 percent, Germany's DAX index fell 0.35 percent, and France's CAC-40 rose 0.07 percent. In China, the often-volatile Shanghai Composite Exchange rose 2.6 percent.

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