* Retail sales surge most in 2-1/2 years
* No new pressure on Fed from inflation
* Consumer banking boosts BofA Q3 profit
* Wells profit hit by legal charges, mortgage banking slump
* Futures up: Dow 36 pts, S&P 4.5 pts, Nasdaq 20.25 pts (Adds details on data, comment, changes prices)
By Sruthi Shankar
Oct 13 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks were set to open as much as a third of a percent higher on Friday after data showed retail sales surging by the most in 2-1/2 years, easing doubts over an economy that has been sluggish this year.
Shares in the United States’ second largest bank, Bank of America, also rose 1.12 percent in premarket trading as the lender benefited from higher official interest rates.
All of Wall Street’s main indexes had ended lower on Thursday as investors worried about credit card lending losses in the third quarter at JPMorgan and Citigroup and what that suggested about underlying consumer demand.
Data on Friday also showed consumer prices recorded their biggest increase in eight months in September as gasoline prices soared in the wake of hurricane-related production disruptions.
But year-on-year core inflation was unmoved for the fifth month, putting no new pressure on the Federal Reserve to tighten borrowing costs and hamper demand any further.
“The expectations (for earnings) were fairly strong coming into the quarter, and the markets have been very strong,” said Thomas Martin, senior portfolio manager at GlobAlt Investments in Atlanta, Georgia.
“The market hasn’t had a correction in a long time and valuations are undeniably high, that’s got people on edge. People are just waiting to see what other people are going to do, and they just don’t want to be the last person out of the door if there is a correction.”
Wells Fargo, mired in a scandal which has seen its chief executive hauled in front of Congress, slipped 1.85 percent after reporting a 8.6 percent decline in profit, hurt by previously disclosed legal costs and a slump in mortgage banking income.
Third-quarter earnings season kicked off on Thursday with tepid reactions to earnings from JPMorgan and Citigroup after both lenders said they had set aside more money for credit card lending losses in the third quarter, even as they reported results that topped analyst estimates.
With the S&P 500 up about 14 percent so far in 2017, investors are hoping earnings growth can help justify valuations.
The retail sales numbers were boosted by demand for building materials and motor vehicles in the aftermath of the hurricanes.
At 8:41 a.m. ET (1241 GMT), Dow e-minis were up 36 points, or 0.16 percent, with 17,806 contracts changing hands.
S&P 500 e-minis were up 4.5 points, or 0.18 percent, with 128,535 contracts traded.
Nasdaq 100 e-minis were up 20.25 points, or 0.33 percent, on volume of 25,062 contracts.
Shares of Centene sank 4.46 percent, Molina Healthcare dipped 2.33 percent and Anthem fell 1.18 percent.
Oil rose more than 2 percent on Friday as strong Chinese oil import data and turmoil in the Middle East boosted bulls in a market that has already shown signs of rebalancing after years of excess. (Reporting by Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru; editing by Patrick Graham)