July 29, 2019 / 12:05 PM / 25 days ago

US STOCKS-Futures flat as Fed policy meeting looms

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* Futures: Dow up 0.03%, S&P 500 and Nasdaq flat

By Shreyashi Sanyal

July 29 (Reuters) - U.S. stock markets were set to open just off record highs on Monday, pausing at the start of a week set to be dominated by Wednesday’s statement by the Federal Reserve and a round of tech company earnings that will again test the impact of trade concerns on global growth.

The S&P 500 and Nasdaq indexes closed at record highs on Friday, as upbeat earnings from Google-parent Alphabet and Starbucks capped a strong week for U.S. retailers and tech companies.

While Refinitiv data shows 75% of the 218 S&P 500 companies that have reported earnings so far have topped profit estimates, data on the U.S. economy has gone in the opposite direction, supporting action by the Fed on Wednesday.

A quarter point cut to bolster the amount of capital coursing through financial markets and support borrowing by ordinary Americans is fully priced in for Wednesday, however, and it will be policymakers’ comments on what next that should define whether a rally since May continues.

“The key question facing investors now is whether the Fed can get away with a small number of insurance cuts or whether it will be pushed towards a more fundamental loosening of policy,” Neil Shearing, group chief economist at Capital Economics, said in a note.

Among other stocks, Mylan NV surged 21.6% as it confirmed reports over the weekend that it was combining with Pfizer Inc’s off-patent branded and generic established medicines business to form a new global player.

Pfizer dropped 1.8% after the drugmaker slashed its full-year profit and revenue forecast in an unexpected release of its quarterly results to go with the deal announcement.

Starbucks Corp retreated 1.4% from Friday’s record highs after J.P.Morgan downgraded the coffee chain’s stock to “neutral” saying its valuation has become “beyond stretched”.

Hopes that the Fed would take a more dovish approach to counter the impact of a protracted U.S.-China trade war has helped Wall Street’s main indexes scale record levels this month.

But the market’s recovery from a torrid month of trading in May have also been dependent on other indicators like earnings not being so robust as to make the Fed hold fire.

Some 33% of S&P companies will be reporting this week, led by Apple Inc after hours on Tuesday.

At 7:22 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis were up 8 points, or 0.03%. S&P 500 e-minis were down 0.25 points, or 0.01% and Nasdaq 100 e-minis were up 1 points, or 0.01%. (Reporting by Shreyashi Sanyal in Bengaluru; Editing by Arun Koyyur)

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