* J.C. Penney up after reporting smaller-than-expected loss
* U.S. retail sales growth flat in July
* Futures: Dow up 9 pts, S&P down 0.5 pts, Nasdaq down 0.25 pts (Adds details, comments, updates prices)
By Yashaswini Swamynathan
Aug 12 (Reuters) - Wall Street was set to open little changed on Friday as investors take a breather after all three major indexes closed at record highs for the first time since 1999.
Strong department store earnings, coupled with a sharp rise in oil prices and robust labor market data, were major catalysts for Thursday’s rally.
U.S. retail sales were unexpectedly flat in July as Americans cut back on purchases of clothing and other goods.
Strong economic data and better-than-expected quarterly earnings have lifted the valuation of the S&P 500 index above the historical average.
The index is priced at about 17 times forward earnings, compared with a 10-year historical average of 14, according to Thomson Reuters data.
“We’re not cheap anymore. People are realizing that inflation is low, interest rates are low and central banks are propping the markets and that’s what is pushing stocks higher,” said John Canally, chief economic strategist at LPL Financial.
“There is just not a lot of macro or micro events on the table that could derail the markets.”
Dow e-minis were up 9 points, or 0.05 percent, with 9,761 contracts changing hands.
S&P 500 e-minis were down 0.5 points, or 0.02 percent, with 115,555 contracts traded.
Nasdaq 100 e-minis were down 0.25 points, or 0.01 percent, on volume of 10,710 contracts.
Oil touched $46 per barrel for the first time in three weeks on the prospects of exporters working out ways to prop up the market.
J.C. Penney shares rose 1.7 percent premarket after the department store reported a smaller-than-expected loss, continuing the trend of estimate beating numbers from Macy’s and Kohl’s on Thursday.
Nvidia rose 4.6 percent to $62.40 in premarket trading after the chipmaker reported its fastest quarterly sales growth in nearly five years. The stock was the top percentage gainer among S&P companies.
Acacia Communications soared 23.2 percent to $83.88 after the company’s second-quarter sales doubled and Needham raised price target to $100 from $65. (Reporting by Yashaswini Swamynathan in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D‘Silva)