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* U.S., China sketch outlines of deal to end trade war
* J&J drops after receiving subpoenas on baby powder litigation
* Nike falls after sneaker malfunction incident
* Futures: Dow off 0.02 pct, S&P down 0.05 pct, Nasdaq up 0.02 pct
By Shreyashi Sanyal
Feb 21 (Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures were flat on Thursday following signs that the United States and China were tackling some of the stickiest issues in their ongoing trade dispute.
Officials have started to outline commitments in principle on subjects of forced technology transfer and cyber theft, intellectual property rights, services, currency, agriculture and non-tariff barriers to trade, sources told Reuters.
The two sides were pushing for an agreement by March 1, Reuters reported. Although, President Donald Trump suggested he was open to pushing that deadline.
Shares of semiconductor companies, which have major revenue exposure to China, rose in premarket trading. Advanced Micro Devices Inc, Micron Technology Inc and Apple supplier Skyworks Solutions Inc climbed between 0.8 percent and 1.4 percent.
At 7:23 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis were down 4 points, or 0.02 percent. S&P 500 e-minis were down 1.5 points, or 0.05 percent and Nasdaq 100 e-minis were up 1.25 points, or 0.02 percent.
Stocks closed higher on Wednesday, after minutes from the Federal Reserve’s last meeting reaffirmed the central bank would be “patient” with respect to further interest rate hikes.
But policymakers gave little sense of how long their stance on the U.S. rate policy would last.
A dovish Fed, largely upbeat earnings and hopes of a resolution to the Sino-U.S. trade war this year have put the S&P 500 index about 5 percent closer to its record closing high hit in September.
Nike shares fell 1.4 percent after emerging basketball star Zion Williamson was injured when his Nike sneaker split during a game.
Johnson & Johnson shares dropped 1.9 percent after the company said it received subpoenas from U.S. regulators related to litigation involving alleged asbestos contamination in its signature Baby Powder product line.
Bunge Ltd slipped 3.7 percent after the global grains merchant reported a lower-than-expected quarterly profit, as its agribusiness was hit by declining soybean prices in Brazil.
Markit U.S. manufacturing PMI for February is seen dipping to 54.7 from 54.9 in the previous month. The report, due at 9:45 am ET, will be watched for clues on factory growth in the U.S. economy.
Meanwhile, data on durable goods orders is likely to have risen in December from the previous month. Initial claims for state unemployment benefits are expected to drop for the week ended Feb. 16 from last week. Both reports are due at 8:30 a.m. ET. (Reporting by Shreyashi Sanyal and Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru)