September 20, 2019 / 1:27 PM / 5 months ago

US STOCKS-Wall St set to open higher on stimulus hopes, easing trade tensions

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* China cuts interest rate for 2nd month in a row

* U.S. temporarily exempts Chinese goods from tariffs

* Chipmaker stocks up as trade talks gather steam

* Futures rise: Dow 0.24%, S&P 0.22%, Nasdaq 0.34% (Adds comment, details; updates prices)

By Ambar Warrick and Medha Singh

Sept 20 (Reuters) - U.S. stock indexes were set to open slightly higher on Friday as an interest rate cut by China’s central bank and signs of more co-operation on trade allayed concerns about a slowdown in global growth.

China cut its new one-year benchmark lending rate for the second month in a row on Friday, days after the Federal Reserve and the European Central Bank reduced borrowing costs and left the door open for further monetary stimulus.

U.S. equities were set to end the week fairly unchanged after a rough start, sparked by attacks on Saudi oil facilities. Hopes of additional stimulus calmed investor nerves later in the week, nudging the benchmark S&P 500 closer to its record high hit in July.

“The market does seem to be in a bit of a waiting pattern, looking for indication for whether the economy will gain strength or the alternative indication that we are going to slow further,” said Rick Meckler, a partner at Cherry Lane Investments, a family investment office in New Vernon, New Jersey.

Market participants are hopeful of a de-escalation in U.S.-China trade tensions as low-level trade talks between the two countries are underway, following tariff concessions last week.

On Thursday, the U.S. Trade Representative’s office said dozens more Chinese products would be excluded from existing tariffs, including dog collars, some printed circuit boards used in computers, certain auto parts and Christmas tree lights.

At 9:01 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis were up 66 points, or 0.24%. S&P 500 e-minis were up 6.5 points, or 0.22% and Nasdaq 100 e-minis were up 26.75 points, or 0.34%.

Markets are likely to become more volatile during Friday’s session on account of “quadruple witching,” as investors unwind interests in futures and options contracts prior to expiration.

Shares of major chipmakers, which have been hit particularly hard by the trade war, rose in premarket trading. Advanced Micro Devices Inc was up about 0.4%, while Micron Technology Inc rose 1.0%%.

However, chipmaker Xilinx Inc dropped 3%% after Chief Financial Officer Lorenzo Flores said he would step down, prompting Bank of America Merrill to downgrade its stock to “neutral”.

Netflix Inc slipped 1.1% as Evercore ISI said recent data checks painted an uncertain picture of the streaming service provider’s international subscriber growth.

Roku Inc dropped 5.2% after Pivotal Research started coverage of its shares with a “sell” rating.

Reporting by Ambar Warrick and Medha Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D'Silva

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