August 27, 2018 / 12:56 PM / 9 months ago

US STOCKS-Wall St on track for higher open on NAFTA progress

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* Mexico and U.S. close in on NAFTA deal

* Ford, GM, Fiat rise in premarket trading

* Tesla dips after abandoning plan to go private

* Futures up: Dow 0.54 pct, S&P 0.39 pct, Nasdaq 0.50 pct (Adds comments, updates prices)

By Shreyashi Sanyal

Aug 27 (Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures pointed to a higher open on Monday as news that the United States and Mexico were closing in on a trade deal added to optimism about the economy, following recent reassuring comments from Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell.

U.S. and Mexican trade negotiators are seen as close to reaching a common position on the North American Free Trade Agreement, with Mexican Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo saying on Sunday that talks have “continued to make progress”. Talks will restart on Monday at 9 a.m. ET.

Also helping sentiment was Washington pressing the European Union to speed up trade negotiations.

Shares of automakers Ford, General Motors and Fiat Chrysler were up between 0.30 percent and 0.41 percent in premarket trading. Trade-sensitive industrials Boeing and Caterpillar rose 0.7 percent and 0.9 percent, respectively.

“What we are seeing is optimism that there is going to be some resolution to trade difficulties and then there’s the news of the U.S. and Mexico closing in on the NAFTA deal,” said Scott Brown, chief economist at Raymond James in St. Petersburg, Florida.

“Easing trade and NAFTA are probably the biggest things today but I think it’s more fundamental than that, because we’re still seeing a lot of signs of strength in the domestic economy and earnings stories have been very robust.”

Fed Chair Powell said on Friday that the central bank’s gradual interest rate hikes were the best way to protect the economic recovery, maintain strong job growth and keep inflation under control.

That helped the S&P 500 close at a record high on Friday, confirming the benchmark index’s longest bull-market run.

At 8:24 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis were up 139 points, or 0.54 percent. S&P 500 e-minis were up 11.25 points, or 0.39 percent and Nasdaq 100 e-minis were up 37.5 points, or 0.5 percent.

Pfizer rose 0.9 percent after saying its rare-heart disease drug reduced the risk of death by around 30 percent, boosting the prospects of what could be a billion-dollar-a-year drug.

Chipotle Mexican Grill slipped 1.4 percent after Wedbush downgraded its shares, citing higher risks to the burrito chain’s near-term same-store sales and margin estimates.

Tesla Inc dropped 2.6 percent, the most among Nasdaq 100 stocks trading premarket, after abandoning a plan to take the electric carmaker private. (Reporting by Shreyashi Sanyal in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta)

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