US futures rise as consumers boost spending

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NEW YORK (AP) -- Stock futures rose Friday as the government reported that consumers boosted their spending in February at the fastest clip in seven months while income was essentially flat.

Dow Jones industrial futures rose 49 points to 13,127 and the Standard & Poor's 500 futures rose 5.9 points to 1,404.1 The Nasdaq composite futures rose 10 points to 2,768.25.

If those gains hold up in regular trading, that would put all major U.S. indexes in positive territory for the week.

The year has begun with strong hiring trends, the best in two years, but those that have jobs have seen their income stagnate.

Income grew 0.2 percent and when inflation is taken into account, actual income after taxes fell.

That means that income has essentially been flat for two months and some of the increased spending by consumers is money that is going in to the gas tank, not into savings.

The national average price for a gallon of gasoline is nearing $4, and it's already beyond that point in 10 states as well as in Washington, D.C.

That is the highest price ever for this time of year and while the White House remains mum, France's prime minister said Thursday that there's a "good chance" that the U.S. and Europe will agree to release some of their oil reserves.

European markets bounced back after a rocky week that included a national strike in Spain. On Friday, the country unveiled a draft 2012 budget that seeks to cut the deficit by $36 billion through spending cuts and a tax hike on large companies. But Spain also plans to cut government ministry spending by an average of nearly 17 percent.

Germany's DAX was up 0.9 percent at 6,935 while the CAC-40 in France rose 1.2 percent to 3,420. The FTSE 100 index of leading British shares was up 0.5 percent to 5,772.

Asian markets took a hit after some poor factory production numbers from Japan.