April 10, 2019 / 1:10 PM / 3 months ago

US STOCKS-Wall Street set to open slightly higher, focus shifts to Fed minutes

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* Delta rises on upbeat quarterly forecast

* Fed’s minutes from March meeting due at 2 pm ET

* U.S. consumer prices up by the most in 14 months

* Futures up: Dow 0.05%, S&P 0.10%, Nasdaq 0.06% (Adds comments, updates prices)

By Sruthi Shankar

April 10 (Reuters) - Wall Street was set for a slightly higher open on Wednesday after a bout of selling on trade and growth concerns, with investors awaiting minutes from the Federal Reserve’s latest meeting and the start of the corporate earnings season.

The S&P 500 ended its eight-day rally on Tuesday after U.S. President Donald Trump threatened to impose tariffs on $11 billion worth of European goods, opening a new front in his global trade war.

The International Monetary Fund’s global growth forecast cut also added to the gloom, with investors now hoping for better-than-feared first-quarter earnings reports and a dovish Fed to keep up the momentum in the market.

The U.S. central bank will release minutes from its March meeting at 2:00 p.m. ET (1800 GMT) that would give an insight into the Fed’s thinking behind its move to suspend rate hikes this year.

“I’m not expecting any surprises from the minutes. The Fed situation for the time being is in the best possible condition and it’s just a matter of waiting for the earnings,” said Andre Bakhos, managing director at New Vines Capital LLC in Bernardsville, New Jersey.

Data showed U.S. consumer prices increased by the most in 14 months in March, but underlying inflation remained benign against the backdrop of slowing domestic and global economic growth.

The Labor Department said its Consumer Price Index rose 0.4%, the biggest advance since January 2018, while economists polled by Reuters expected a 0.3% rise.

The European Central Bank kept its ultra-easy monetary policy unchanged as expected on Wednesday, giving recent stimulus measures time to work their way into the economy and counter spreading global gloom.

Earnings season begins in earnest on Friday when JPMorgan Chase & Co and Wells Fargo & Co report quarterly results.

In the wake of the Fed’s cautious shift and the subsequent drop in 10-year Treasury yields, S&P 500 banks are seen posting earnings growth of 1.9%, down from 8.2% forecast six months ago, according to Refinitiv data.

However, lower earnings expectations from this quarter could be a catalyst for a rally that began a decade ago, analysts say. The S&P 500 has risen 14.8% so far this year and is now just 1.8% below its record closing high hit on Sept. 20.

At 8:40 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis were up 14 points, or 0.05%. S&P 500 e-minis were up 3 points, or 0.1% and Nasdaq 100 e-minis were up 4.75 points, or 0.06%.

Levi Strauss & Co jumped 6.9% in premarket trading. The jeans maker posted a 7% rise in quarterly revenue after returning to public markets last month, driven by its strategy to invest in its retail stores and online business.

Delta Air Lines Co rose 2.4% after the carrier forecast second-quarter profit and reported first-quarter earnings above expectations.

Fellow carriers, United Continental Holdings, American Airlines Group Inc and Southwest Airlines Co climbed between 0.8% and 1.2%.

Advanced Micro Devices Inc climbed 1.0% after Cowen and Co raised its price target on the chipmaker’s shares and said it was in a better competitive position than Intel Corp . (Reporting by Sruthi Shankar and Shreyashi Sanyal in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D’Silva)

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