July 16, 2018 / 1:14 PM / in a year

US STOCKS-Wall St set to open flat as weak oil prices offset earnings enthusiasm

* Energy stocks fall as crude prices tumble

* Bank of America rise on strong Q2 report

* Retail sales rose 0.5 pct in June (Adds comment, details; updates prices)

By Amy Caren Daniel

July 16 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks were set for a muted opening on Monday as a sharp drop in crude oil prices weighed on energy companies, while a robust report from Bank of America reinforced expectations of a strong earnings season.

Brent crude prices tumbled 2.9 percent as concerns about supply disruptions eased and Libyan ports reopened, while traders eyed potential supply increases by Russia and other oil producers.

Shares of Chevron and Exxon slid nearly 1 percent in premarket trading, the most among the components of the Dow Jones Industrial Average. Energy companies also led the losses on the S&P 500 stocks premarket, led by Concho Resources’ 2.4 percent drop.

Shares of Bank of America rose 0.7 percent after the second-largest U.S. lender’s quarterly profit beat analysts expectations on lower expenses and growth in loans and deposits.

This follows mixed earnings reports from three of its Wall Street peers on Friday, which dragged down bank stocks but could not stop the S&P 500 from closing at its highest level in more than five months.

The markets have been expecting a strong second-quarter earnings, which for S&P 500 companies is expected to have surged around 21 percent, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Of the 27 S&P 500 companies that have reported earnings through Friday, 85.2 percent have topped earnings expectations, above the 75-percent average of the past four quarters.

“What will be interesting in this earnings season apart from what we know, is what the guidance will sound like, with the trade wars going on and tariffs being put in place,” said Art Hogan, chief market strategist at B. Riley FBR in New York.

“We are probably going to have some cautious guidance as a lot of the multinational companies would’ve priced in the bad news.”

At 8:59 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis were up 8 points, or 0.03 percent. S&P 500 e-minis were down 1.5 points, or 0.05 percent and Nasdaq 100 e-minis were up 2.75 points, or 0.04 percent.

The Commerce Department said U.S. retail sales increased 0.5 percent in June, boosted by increases in purchases of motor vehicles and a range of other goods.

Data for May was revised higher to show sales rising 1.3 percent instead of the previously reported 0.8 percent gain. But the unchanged reading in core retail sales last month likely does not change views that consumer spending accelerated in the second quarter.

Among stocks, J.B. Hunt Transport rose 4.2 percent after reporting better-than-expected quarterly results.

Toymaker Hasbro slid about 3 percent after BMO downgraded the stock to underperform.

Netflix was up 0.4 percent ahead of its earnings report, expected after markets close. Amazon.com Inc also gained 0.5 percent as its ‘Prime Day’ shopping event kicked off. (Reporting by Amy Caren Daniel in Bengaluru)

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