By Uday Sampath Kumar
(Reuters) – U.S. stock index futures were largely flat on Wednesday as easing trade tensions with China did little to sway investors, who are refraining from making heavy bets ahead of the Federal Reserve’s decision on interest rates next week.
Earlier in the day, China’s finance ministry said 16 types of U.S. goods would be exempted from additional retaliatory tariffs, ahead of a planned meeting between trade negotiators from the two countries.
While the move is perceived as a friendly gesture to thaw trade relations with the United States, analysts are far from convinced that it is a turning point in a trade war that has hurt the global economy.
“The exemption could be seen as a gesture of sincerity toward the US ahead of negotiations in October, but is probably more a means of supporting the (Chinese) economy,” Iris Pang, a Greater China economist with ING, wrote in a note.
On Tuesday, a senior White House adviser tempered down expectations for the trade talks, urging investors to be patient about resolving the dispute between the world’s two largest economies.
Markets are now looking for stimulus measures from central banks to stem a global slowdown, with the Fed and the European Central Bank expected to cut interest rates at their policy meetings over the next two weeks.
With major decisions still around the corner, trading in U.S. markets has been subdued this week. Investors have been readjusting their portfolios, shifting profits from outperforming sectors such as technology to those that have underperformed like energy and financials.
Shares of Micron Technology Inc (O:) rose nearly 2% premarket after Longbow Research upgraded its rating on the stock to “buy”. Shares of other chipmakers also ticked higher in thin volumes.
Apple Inc (O:) was marginally higher after the company unveiled its latest iPhones on Tuesday and rolled out a streaming TV service at a price that undercut Disney (N:) and Netflix (O:).
At 7:05 a.m. ET, were up 26 points, or 0.1%. S&P 500 e-minis were up 0.25 points, or 0.01% and were down 3.75 points, or 0.05%.
Also on the radar is a report from the Labor Department, due at 8:30 a.m. ET, which is expected to show producer prices for final demand in August remained unchanged at 1.7%.
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