March 6, 2019 / 2:00 PM / 17 days ago

US STOCKS-Wall St set for muted open due to lack of fresh catalysts

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* GE extends declines after 2019 net cash outflow forecast

* Abercrombie & Fitch, Dollar Tree jump after results

* Aon Plc jumps after abandoning Willis Towers Watson deal

* Mylan rises as Morgan Stanley raises to ‘overweight’

* Futures dip: Dow 0.16 pct, S&P 0.12 pct, Nasdaq 0.09 pct (Changes comment, adds details, updates prices)

By Medha Singh

March 6 (Reuters) - Wall Street was set to dip at the open on Wednesday in the absence of fresh developments on trade, with investors taking a step back after a strong run in equities since the start of the year.

Hopes that the United States and China will end their bitter trade row and a dovish stance on future interest rate hikes by the Federal Reserve has propelled the S&P 500 11 percent higher this year.

U.S. stocks began the week on a positive note after a report that the United States and China would arrive at a trade agreement as early as month-end, but the optimism-driven rally has since fizzled out.

The benchmark index has been struggling to go past the 2,800-point mark, a key resistance level, closing lower in five of the past six sessions in choppy trading.

“We started the year with a lot of fears and uncertainty and some of that has abated, but now there’s not a lot of catalysts to push the markets one way or the other,” said Scott Brown, chief economist at Raymond James in St. Petersburg, Florida.

“It’s going to be more of this back and forth for a while until the trade picture gets clearer.”

General Electric Co shares slipped 5.5 percent in premarket trade, extending losses from a day earlier, after the conglomerate warned of a negative net cash flow from its industrial businesses this year.

A few consumer names were among the bright spots.

Abercrombie & Fitch jumped 11.8 after the apparel maker forecast full-year sales growth above Wall Street expectations.

Dollar Tree Inc advanced 4.1 after the discount store operator reported better-than-expected quarterly same-store sales.

At 8:41 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis were down 42 points, or 0.16 percent. S&P 500 e-minis were down 3.25 points, or 0.12 percent and Nasdaq 100 e-minis were down 6.5 points, or 0.09 percent.

In economic news, the U.S. trade deficit surged to a 10-year high in 2018, with the politically sensitive shortfall with China hitting a record peak, despite the Trump administration slapping tariffs on a range of imported goods.

Among other movers, Aon Plc jumped 6.2 percent after the company said it had scrapped plans to pursue a merger with rival insurance brokerage Willis Towers Watson Plc. Willis Towers tumbled 5.8 percent.

Mylan NV rose 2.4 percent after Morgan Stanley raised rating on the drugmaker’s shares as it expects the company’s revenue to improve in 2019.

The Federal Reserve’s Beige Book, a compendium of anecdotes on the health of the economy drawn from the central bank’s sources across the nation, is expected at 2 p.m. ET (1800 GMT). (Reporting by Medha Singh and Amy Caren Daniel in Bengaluru; Editing by Arun Koyyur)

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