(Reuters) – The three major U.S. indexes were set to open flat on Thursday after mixed signals on trade and a row between Washington and Beijing over the Hong Kong protests cast doubts on the timing of a deal to end the prolonged tariff dispute.
U.S. stock index futures erased losses after a report that the United States could delay tariffs on Chinese imports even if a deal was not reached by Dec. 15, when tariffs kick in on goods including items such as electronics and Christmas decorations. (bit.ly/2rhuyV7)
“This just shows that the trade deal is not dead and that we will get some sort of an extended truce, which is a positive,” said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at Spartan Capital Securities in New York.
“Investors are looking for a ‘phase one’ deal and the news right now points to that.”
Chipmakers with a large revenue exposure to China, including Intel Corp (INTC.O), were largely flat in premarket trade.
Wall Street’s moves this year have been largely dictated by headlines on trade, with expectations building in recent weeks of at least a partial agreement between the world’s top two economies.
However, all three major indexes ended the last session in the red after a record run this month on a report that the deal could be delayed to next year. Political tensions between the two sides after a U.S. bill supporting Hong Kong protests have also dulled the mood.
At 9:07 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis 1YMcv1 were up 9 points, or 0.03%. S&P 500 e-minis EScv1 were up 1.25 points, or 0.04% and Nasdaq 100 e-minis NQcv1 were up 0.5 points, or 0.01%.
Apple Inc (AAPL.O) edged up 0.6%, as U.S. President Donald Trump said he was considering whether to exempt the iPhone maker from tariffs on imports from China.
Macy’s Inc (M.N) slipped 4.4% after the department store operator cut its full-year profit forecast blaming falling tourist numbers and weak mall traffic.
With the third-quarter earnings season drawing to a close, focus is now shifting to M&A activity in corporate America.
Applied Materials Inc (AMAT.O) slipped 3% after UBS downgraded shares of the chip gear maker to “sell”.