August 29, 2018 / 1:07 PM / 3 months ago

US STOCKS-Wall St set to open flat as trade overhang lingers

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* Progress awaited on U.S.-Canada trade talks

* Amazon, Alphabet up premarket on broker price target hikes

* Hewlett Packard Enterprise gains on upbeat results

* Dick’s Sporting falls on weak sales, pulls down Under Armour

* Futures: Dow off 0.08 pct, S&P 0.04 pct; Nasdaq up (Adds comment, updates prices)

By Shreyashi Sanyal

Aug 29 (Reuters) - U.S. stock indexes were set to open flat on Wednesday, with trade squarely in focus as investors awaited progress on trade talks between the United States and Canada and eyed next week’s deadline for consultations on fresh China-U.S. tariffs.

After the United States and Mexico announced a bilateral deal on Monday, U.S.-Canada are working to salvage the North American Free Trade Agreement amid signs Ottawa was open to taking a more conciliatory approach.

The next round of U.S tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods are expected to take effect in late September after a public comment period ends on Sept. 5.

“Investors will continue to concentrate on trade talks now with Canada, and the enthusiasm will continue until we get some concrete news on whether or not the U.S. and Canada reach a deal,” said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at Spartan Capital Securities in New York.

“It looks like we are headed for another mixed to positive session much like yesterday’s but with lighter trading volume, but any positive comments on trade might contribute to a stronger upwards move,” Cardillo added.

Among stocks, Amazon.com gained 1.1 percent trading premarket and Alphabet rose 0.5 percent after Morgan Stanley raised its price target on both stocks to become the most bullish Wall Street brokerage on the so-called FANG members.

At 8:40 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis were down 20 points, or 0.08 percent. S&P 500 e-minis were down 1.25 points, or 0.04 percent and Nasdaq 100 e-minis were up 3.5 points, or 0.05 percent.

The benchmark S&P 500 index has hit record highs for three sessions in a row, but eked out a gain on Tuesday as investors looked beyond Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell’s comments and the U.S.-Mexico trade deal.

U.S. economic growth was a bit stronger than initially thought in the second quarter, notching its best performance in nearly four years, as businesses boosted spending on software and imports declined, data from the Commerce Department showed.

Shares of Dick’s Sporting Goods tumbled 8.1 percent as the sportswear retailer’s quarterly same-store sales fell more than expected.

The company blamed tighter controls on gun sales and weak sales of Under Armour products, which pushed shares of the sportswear maker down 3.8 percent.

However, footwear retailer Shoe Carnival jumped 14.3 percent after it beat quarterly profit estimates. Express Inc jumped 7.6 percent after the apparel retailer beat profit estimates and raised its full-year forecast.

Hewlett Packard Enterprise was up 2.2 percent after the IT products and services provider topped revenue and profit estimates. (Reporting by Shreyashi Sanyal in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta)

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