July 19, 2017 / 11:24 AM / a year ago

US STOCKS-Tech stocks lift Nasdaq futures; Dow, S&P flat

* Futures: Dow down 12 pts, S&P up 1.25 pts, Nasdaq up 14.25 pts

By Tanya Agrawal

July 19 (Reuters) - A rise in technology stocks helped the Nasdaq futures grind higher on Wednesday, while the S&P and the Dow futures were little changed with investors staying focused on earnings.

* The tech-heavy Nasdaq closed at a record high on Tuesday, with the index posting its longest streak of gains since February 2015.

* The S&P tech sector has been the best performing sector this year despite concerns about stretched valuations as investors look for growth sectors immune to policy uncertainties.

* Investors will also continue to focus on quarterly earnings to see if high valuations are justified in the face of mixed economic data, tepid inflation and policy gridlock in Washington.

* Analysts estimate an 8.5 percent rise in second-quarter earnings and a 4.7 percent increase in revenue for S&P 500 companies from a year earlier.

* This follows a robust first quarter when U.S. companies posted the fastest rate of growth in earnings since 2011, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

* TMobile, Qualcomm and American Express are among the companies that will report results after the bell.

* Economic data expected later in the day includes housing starts for June that is likely to have increased to 1.16 million from 1.09 million in May. Building permits are forecast rising to 1.20 million from 1.17 million. The data is expected at 8:30 a.m. ET (1230 GMT).

* Oil prices traded higher, supported by a strong gasoline market, but rising output from OPEC producers revived concerns about a fuel supply overhang.

* Shares of IBM fell 3.2 percent in premarket trading after the company’s quarterly revenue came in below expectations.

* United Continental Holdings was down 2.5 percent, a day after the airline’s quarterly results beat expectation but said costs rose.

* Morgan Stanley rose 0.8 percent after the bank’s quarterly profit rose 11.4 percent.

* Vertex Pharmaceuticals jumped 27.3 percent after the company reported positive results for its cystic fibrosis triple combination treatment.

* Discovery Communications was up 5.6 percent after a source told Reuters that the company and Scripps Networks Interactive are in merger talks. Scripps was up 14.1 percent.

Futures snapshot at 7:07 a.m. ET:

* Dow e-minis were down 12 points, or 0.06 percent, with 11,948 contracts changing hands.

* S&P 500 e-minis were up 1.25 points, or 0.05 percent, with 78,754 contracts traded.

* Nasdaq 100 e-minis were up 14.25 points, or 0.24 percent, on volume of 19,695 contracts. (Reporting by Tanya Agrawal; Editing by Arun Koyyur)

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