* April retail sales rise 1.3 pct vs. est. 0.8 pct rise
* Nordstrom, J.C. Penney lower after fall in sales
* Nvidia rises after forecast beats expectations
* Futures: Dow down 13 pts, S&P up 0.25, Nasdaq up 1.5 (Adds details, comment, updates prices)
By Tanya Agrawal
May 13 (Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures erased their losses on Friday after data showed retail sales in April recorded their biggest increase in a year, suggesting the economy was regaining momentum after growth almost stalled in the first quarter.
The U.S. Commerce Department said retail sales jumped 1.3 percent last month, the largest gain since March 2015 and beating expectations of a rise of 0.8 percent.
The strong data also helped ease concerns after weak earnings reports from department stores including Macy’s this week stoked fears about consumer spending, which accounts for more than two-thirds of U.S. economic activity.
“The numbers came in much stronger than we expected and that will help alleviate the market’s concerns over retail. The number also puts the rate hike back on the table,” said Peter Cardillo chief market economist at First Standard Financial.
Dow e-minis were down 13 points, or 0.07 percent, with 36,846 contracts changing hands by 8:41 a.m. ET (1241 GMT).
S&P 500 e-minis were up 0.25 points, or 0.01 percent, with 259,039 contracts traded.
Nasdaq 100 e-minis were up 1.5 points, or 0.03 percent, on volume of 33,421 contracts.
However the clouds over the retail sector darkened after two more department store operators, Nordstrom and J.C. Penney, reported lower-than-expected sales.
Shares of Nordstrom slumped nearly 15.7 percent at $38.14 premarket, while J.C. Penney tumbled 9.2 percent to $7.08.
U.S. stocks ended mixed on Thursday, with gains in consumer staples and telecommunications helping make up for Apple’s tumble to a two-year low.
Apple was down 0.43 percent at $89.95 premarket Friday.
A rally in the S&P 500 index from its February lows has petered out over the last two weeks amid underwhelming earnings reports from companies and economic data that clouded the outlook for interest rate increases this year.
Two U.S. Federal Reserve officials said on Thursday that the central bank should raise rates if data points to an improving economy. However, traders are pricing in only rate hike, at the end of the year.
Nvidia was up 7.9 percent at $38.41 after the company forecast better-than-expected revenue for the current quarter.
UnitedHealth was down 2.9 percent at $126 after a judge ruled in favor of Republicans who challenged President Barack Obama’s healthcare law, ruling that his administration had overstepped its constitutional powers on government spending. (Reporting by Tanya Agrawal, Additional reporting by Yashaswini Swamynathan; Editing by Ted Kerr and Savio D‘Souza)