US STOCKS-Wall Street set to open higher on trade optimism, strong retail sales

(Reuters) – U.S. stocks were set to open higher for the third straight day on Friday on growing optimism around trade talks between the United States and China as well as stronger-than-expected domestic retail sales. The S&P 500 .SPX closed on Thursday within striking distance of a record high hit in July, as trade concessions from Beijing and Washington helped stocks recover from a sluggish start to the week. If early indications hold, markets are set for their third straight week of gains, having already recouped losses from August when escalating trade tensions and the inversion of a key part of the U.S. yield curve drove investors toward perceived safe-haven assets. U.S. President Donald Trump calmed markets on Thursday after saying he was potentially open to an interim trade deal with China, although he preferred a comprehensive agreement. On Friday, China’s official Xinhua News Agency said the country would exempt some U.S. pork and soybeans from additional tariffs on U.S. goods. “If you are hoping for a trade deal, the comments that President Trump made are probably the best you could expect right now,” said Robert Pavlik, chief investment strategist and senior portfolio manager at SlateStone Wealth LLC in New York. However, Pavlik added that a trade deal – interim or otherwise – was not likely to be signed before the 2020 presidential election. The trade conflict has taken a toll on U.S. manufacturing and tempered global growth, with the International Monetary Fund forecasting that the tit-for-tat tariffs between the United States and China could reduce global GDP in 2020 by 0.8%. Investors are now expecting the U.S. Federal Reserve to cut rates at its policy meeting next week for a decision on interest rate cuts, especially after the European Central Bank announced a sweeping stimulus drive on Thursday to prop up the euro zone economy. Commerce Department data showed that retail sales rose 0.4% in August, lifted by spending on cars, building materials, healthcare and hobbies. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast an increase of 0.2%. At 9:04 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis 1YMcv1 were up 64 points, or 0.24%. S&P 500 e-minis EScv1 were up 4 points, or 0.13% and Nasdaq 100 e-minis NQcv1 were down 5 points, or 0.06%. After crossing the trillion dollar valuation mark on Wednesday, Apple Inc (AAPL.O) was set to end the week on a sour note after Goldman Sachs cut its price target on the stock. Broadcom Inc (AVGO.O) slipped 1.1% after the company said demand for microchips had bottomed out, adding that a recovery was not yet on the cards.

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