April 3, 2017 / 1:02 PM / a year ago

US STOCKS-Wall St set to open flat; "difficult" Trump-Xi talks loom

* Trump has said meeting to be “a very difficult one”

* Investors fret over Trump’s protectionist stance on trade

* Tesla up on record quarterly vehicle deliveries

* Futures up: Dow 15 pts, S&P 0.5 pts, Nasdaq 5.75 pts (Adds details, comments, updates prices)

By Yashaswini Swamynathan

April 3 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks were set to open flat on Monday, the first trading day of the second quarter, with investors awaiting President Donald Trump’s first meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping later this week.

Trump said in a tweet on Thursday that the meeting would be “a very difficult one” as the United States could not risk massive trade deficits and job losses.

“The market was a little taken aback by Trump’s comments recently about the meeting,” said Andre Bakhos, managing director at Janlyn Capital in Bernardsville, New Jersey.

“The market will be anxious and will be eager to glean whatever they get from those talks.”

While investors have cheered Trump’s promises for fiscal stimulus and tax cuts, they worry his protectionist stance on trade could affect U.S. companies.

Dow e-minis were up 15 points, or 0.07 percent at 8:33 a.m. ET (1233 GMT), with 19,628 contracts changing hands.

S&P 500 e-minis were up 0.5 points, or 0.02 percent, with 113,997 contracts traded.

Nasdaq 100 e-minis were up 5.75 points, or 0.11 percent, on volume of 20,592 contracts.

“Either this is a rest before we move higher or it is the beginning of a top for a little while, and I think earnings will be the arbiter of that decision,” Bakhos said.

Wall Street’s major indexes are near record highs after a strong rally in the first quarter. Investors are turning their attention to the impending earnings season to justify lofty valuations.

Overall earnings at S&P 500 companies are estimated to have risen about 10 percent in the first quarter, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

The benchmark S&P 500 index is trading at about 18 times earnings estimates for the next 12 months, above its long-term average of 15.

Among stocks, Tesla was up 2.2 percent at $284.35 premarket after the electric carmaker said on Sunday its vehicle deliveries increased 69 percent in the first quarter.

Accenture was down 2.8 percent at $116.54 after Goldman Sachs downgraded the stock to “sell” from “neutral”.

Novocure jumped nearly 57 percent to $12.70 after reporting positive data on a combination cancer therapy on Friday. (Reporting by Yashaswini Swamynathan in Bengaluru, additional reporting by Dhara Ranasinghe; Editing by Savio D’Souza)

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