October 10, 2019 / 1:07 PM / 10 months ago

US STOCKS-Wall St set to open weaker as focus turns to high-level U.S.-China trade talks

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* Apple rises as brokerage sees higher iPhone demand

* Qorvo, Skyworks gain on Cowen upgrades

* Cisco falls on report of GS downgrade

* Futures off: Dow 0.16%, S&P 500 0.13%, Nasdaq 0.10% (Adds comment; Updates market action)

By Shreyashi Sanyal

Oct 10 (Reuters) - Wall Street’s main indexes were set to open lower on Thursday, as top negotiators from the United States and China meet for the first time since late July to try to hammer out a deal to end the 15-month long trade war.

U.S. stocks had a roller-coaster week so far, with developments in the trade war stealing the spotlight. All three major indexes ended the previous session almost 1% higher on optimism that the two sides could agree to a partial trade deal.

Those hopes strengthened after Bloomberg reported the United States was weighing a currency pact with China, but dampened again on Thursday as China urged the United States to stop unreasonable pressure on Chinese companies.

Further denting sentiment, the South China Morning Post reported the United States and China made no progress in deputy-level trade talks earlier in the week.

“What the market wants more than anything is something concrete and tangible from these talks,” said Andre Bakhos, managing director at New Vines Capital LLC in Bernardsville, New Jersey. “There are many variables, but the linchpin at the moment is the trade talks.”

Equity markets have also been rankled by weak economic indicators showing a sharp contraction in U.S. manufacturing and a bleak reading on business activity, bolstering bets of another interest rate cut by the Federal Reserve to combat a slowdown.

Traders currently see an 85% chance of the central bank lowering borrowing costs at its policy meeting in October, according to CME Group’s FedWatch tool.

Data on Thursday showed U.S. consumer prices were unchanged in September, while underlying inflation retreated.

Apple Inc inched 0.3% higher in premarket trading after Longbow Research upgraded the company to “buy”, citing higher iPhone 11 demand.

Apple suppliers Skyworks Solutions Inc and Qorvo Inc gained 2.6% and 3.2%, respectively, after Cowen and Co upgraded its rating on both the companies, expecting them to benefit from higher iPhone demand.

At 8:46 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis were down 41 points, or 0.16%. S&P 500 e-minis were down 3.75 points, or 0.13% and Nasdaq 100 e-minis were down 7.75 points, or 0.10%.

Cisco Systems Inc dropped 1.4%, after a report that Goldman Sachs downgraded the network gear maker’s shares to “neutral”.

Investors are also awaiting the third-quarter earnings season, which kicks off next week. Analysts now expect earnings for S&P 500 companies to drop by 3.1% year-on-year, the first contraction since an earnings recession that ended in 2016. (Reporting by Shreyashi Sanyal and Medha Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta)

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