Wall Street set for higher open as US-China trade talks resume

The upcoming US-China talks have helped buoy Wall Street. — Reuters pic
The upcoming US-China talks have helped buoy Wall Street. — Reuters pic

NEW YORK, Feb 11 — Wall Street's main indexes were set to rise at open today as the latest round of trade talks between the world's largest economies began in Beijing, while US lawmakers attempted to hammer out a deal to avoid another government shutdown.

China struck an upbeat note on the talks and the Shanghai exchange rose more than 1 per cent after a week-long Lunar New Year holiday, but a US Navy mission through the disputed South China Sea weighed on sentiment.

Shares of Boeing Inc, the largest US exporter to China, gained 1.1 per cent in premarket trading, while Caterpillar Inc climbed 0.7 per cent.

"These trade talks are being viewed as a positive. There is still a lot of uncertainty but there's this pattern of markets embracing good news a little bit more than bad news," said Scott Brown, chief economist at Raymond James in St. Petersburg, Florida.

Adding to the positive tone, White House senior counselor Kellyanne Conway told Fox news that Donald Trump may still meet with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping in the near future. However, Trump last week said he did not plan to meet with Xi before the March.

The latest trade talks come against the backdrop of last month's discussions ending without a deal and the top U.S. negotiator declaring that a lot more work needed to be done.

"The market is reacting to shifting news but there won't be a significant move until we get a resolution to trade," Brown said.

In Washington, talks on border security funding collapsed yesterday after Democratic and Republican lawmakers clashed over immigrant detention policy, but a special negotiating panel is aiming to reach a deal by Monday.

Trade uncertainty and worries of a global economic slowdown capped gains on the S&P 500, which ended last week flat, still the benchmark index is about 15 percent above its December lows, helped in part by a dovish Federal Reserve and largely upbeat earnings reports.

The fourth-quarter earnings season has entered the home stretch, with 71.5 percent of the S&P 500 companies that have reported results topping profit estimates, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

But analysts' estimates for first-quarter earnings for S&P companies have turned negative. They expect a decline of 0.1 percent from a year earlier, which would be the first quarterly profit fall for the group since 2016.

At 8:20 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis were up 117 points, or 0.47 per cent. S&P 500 e-minis were up 11.25 points, or 0.42 percent and Nasdaq 100 e-minis were up 39.75 points, or 0.57 percent.

Some of the major US companies reporting this week include Coca-Cola Co, PepsiCo Inc and Nvidia Corp .

Tesla Inc rose 2.4 per cent after brokerage Canaccord Genuity upgraded the stock, calling its electric vehicle penetration "underappreciated".

Electronics Arts Inc gained 3.3 per cent after analysts were upbeat about a strong start to the video-game publisher's newly launched game. — Reuters