Stocks futures trade in tight range after retail sales report shows modest growth

Stock futures moved off their morning lows, but remain mixed Tuesday, after another report signaled modest economic growth.

The dollar hit a new 15-year low against Japan's yen and Treasury prices rose, which kept potential gains in check.

The Commerce Department said retail sales rose 0.4 percent, slightly better than the 0.3 percent growth forecast by economists polled by Thomson Reuters. The sales report Tuesday falls in line with data over the past two weeks that has indicated the economy is growing slightly faster than economists expected, but still remains sluggish.

Modest growth rates have been enough to reduce fears of the country falling back into recession. That has provided sufficient encouragement for traders to jump back into stocks this month. The Dow Jones industrial average has climbed eight of the past nine days and is off to its best September start since 1939.

Ahead of the opening bell, Dow Jones industrial average futures fell 12, or 0.1 percent, to 10,460. Standard & Poor's 500 index futures fell 1.90, or 0.2 percent, to 1,114.30, while Nasdaq 100 index futures rose 0.50, or less than 0.1 percent, to 1,917.25.

Bond prices rose, driving down interest rates. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note, which moves opposite its price, fell to 2.71 percent from 2.75 percent late Monday. Its yield is used as a gauge to set interest rates on mortgages and other consumer loans.

The market rally has come on light volume, which can exaggerate moves and means many traders aren't confident enough yet to participate in the recent surge. September has been a historically bad month for stocks, but coming off a weak August this year traders remaining in the market have bid up stocks aggressively. The Dow has gained 5.3 percent so far in September.

Global markets also paused Tuesday as the dollar weakened against the yen. Japan's Nikkei stock average fell 0.2 percent as its strengthening currency hurts major manufactures that rely on exporting goods, like Sony and Toyota.

Britain's FTSE 100 fell 0.1 percent, Germany's DAX index dipped less than 0.1 percent, and France's CAC-40 also fell less than 0.1 percent.