May 18, 2018 / 11:40 AM / 7 months ago

US STOCKS-Futures edge higher with trade talks in focus

* Futures up: Dow 0.23 pct, S&P 0.11 pct, Nasdaq 0.14 pct

By Medha Singh

May 18 (Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures rose slightly in choppy trading on Friday as oil prices climbed, while investors kept a close watch on Sino-U.S. trade talks.

China denied it had offered to cut its trade surplus with the United States by up to $200 billion, hours after it dropped an anti-dumping probe into U.S. sorghum imports, but added that talks were constructive.

The world’s two biggest economies are seeking to bridge a divide on trade issues during the two-day talks in Washington that began on Thursday.

Oil prices continued their surge, with Brent crude on track for the sixth straight week of gains, boosted by strong demand, looming sanctions on Iran, plummeting Venezuelan production and Nigerian disruptions.

At 7:19 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis were up 58 points, or 0.23 percent. S&P 500 e-minis were up 3 points, or 0.11 percent and Nasdaq 100 e-minis were up 9.75 points, or 0.14 percent.

Investors have been fretting over rising interest rates, with the 10-year Treasury yield, the benchmark for global borrowing costs, holding above the key 3 percent level for the fourth day.

However, Bank of America Merrill Lynch said on Friday investors pumped $11.9 billion into global equities in the past week and also put money into bank loans, likely viewing the rise in U.S. bond yields as reflecting a robustly growing economy.

Among stocks, Applied Materials fell 4.9 percent after the chip gear maker’s disappointing forecast renewed concerns over slowing smartphone demand, while AMD rose 2.6 percent after Cowen started coverage with an “outperform” rating.

Mattel shares gained 3.7 percent on a Wall Street Journal report that the company rejected Bratz dolls inventor Isaac Larian’s offer to merge his MGA Entertainment Inc with the Barbie doll maker. (Reporting by Medha Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D’Silva)

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