July 18, 2018 / 1:10 PM / 5 months ago

US STOCKS-Futures flat as oil prices weigh, earnings in focus

* UAL rise on beat-and-raise report, boost airlines

* CSX gains on profit beat; other railroads rise

* Alphabet drops on record $5 bln EU fine on Google

* Futures: Dow and S&P flat, Nasdaq dips 0.12 pct (Adds comment, details; updates prices)

By Amy Caren Daniel

July 18 (Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures treaded water on Wednesday as lower oil prices weighed on energy companies and investors digested earnings reports from a slew of companies.

Also in focus is Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell’s testimony before the House Financial Services Committee from 10.00 a.m. ET, a day after his bullish outlook on the U.S. economy boosted Wall Street’s main indexes.

“The overall driver in the markets today is earnings, as we haven’t heard anything new on trade,” said Art Hogan, chief market strategist at B. Riley FBR in New York.

“The Q&A in the House tends to be more rambunctious than the one in the Senate, but Powell proved he could stay on message in his testimony on Tuesday, and I expect very few surprises out of him today.”

But in a sign that the trade dispute was far from running its course, China’s Ministry of Commerce said it would have to take more steps to compensate for losses caused by U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminum.

However, earnings beat from United Airlines and railroad CSX Corp helped ease concerns about the impact of the trade dispute on domestic hauls.

UAL also raised its 2018 profit forecast, sending its shares up 4.6 percent in premarket trading and boosting other airline stocks. CSX rose 3.8 percent and pushed shares of other railroad operators higher.

As the second-quarter earnings season shifts to high gear, analyst expectations have grown rosier. The second-quarter S&P 500 earnings growth is now expected to be 21.2 percent, up from 20.7 percent on July 1, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

But a recent slide in oil prices has weighed on the markets. Brent crude hit a three-month low in the session after a rise in U.S. crude inventories highlighted increasing global supply and concerns over weak demand.

Also weighing was Alphabet, which dropped 0.7 percent after EU regulators hit Google with a record $5 billion antitrust fine for using its Android mobile operating system to squeeze out rivals. Google said it would appeal the fine.

At 8:50 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis were up 3 points, or 0.01 percent. S&P 500 e-minis were down 1.25 points, or 0.04 percent and Nasdaq 100 e-minis were down 9.25 points, or 0.12 percent.

Morgan Stanley rose 3 percent after its profit beat expectations on gains in fixed income and equities trading businesses.

Berkshire Hathaway’s class B shares rose 2.6 percent after it eliminated a restriction on its ability to buy back its own stock, which could help it deploy more cash. (Reporting by Amy Caren Daniel in Bengaluru; Editing by Arun Koyyur)

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