April 22, 2019 / 1:10 PM / 3 months ago

US STOCKS-Wall St set to open lower as investors brace for earnings deluge

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* Halliburton jumps on Q1 earnings, calls end to pricing decline

* Kimberly Clark eyes 2-yr high as results beat estimates

* Tesla shares drop as company probes Model S car explosion video

* Futures down: Dow 0.33%, S&P 0.34%, Nasdaq 0.51% (Adds analyst comment, updates prices)

By Sruthi Shankar

April 22 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks were set to open lower on Monday as investors returned from their Easter break and took a cautious stance at the start of what is expected to be the busiest week of the first-quarter earnings season.

The S&P 500 closed slightly lower last week, ending its three-week winning streak, but hovered about 1% away from a record high hit in September, boosted in part by largely positive earnings.

About a third of the S&P 500 companies, including Boeing Co , Amazon.com Inc and Facebook Inc, will report this week, determining whether investors should be concerned about the start of an earnings recession or whether back-to-back quarters of negative growth can be avoided.

S&P 500 profits are expected to drop 1.7% year-over-year, according to Refinitiv data, in what could be the first earnings contraction since 2016.

“Q1 earnings have largely been a pleasant surprise thus far, but have not ignited investor enthusiasm enough to move the needle in a meaningful way,” Peter Kenny, founder of Strategic Board Solutions LLC in New York, wrote in a client note.

“Given the waning volume and advance/decline metrics evidenced by equity markets in recent weeks, it would be justifiable to be concerned.”

Benefiting from a surge in oil prices and upbeat results was Halliburton Co, whose shares rose 2.4% in premarket trading. The oilfield services provider said a pricing downturn that has plagued the sector was bottoming out as it reported modestly higher activity levels in North America in the first quarter.

Oil got a boost after the United States announced a further clampdown on Iranian oil exports, tightening global supplies.

Exxon Mobil Corp was up 1.0% and Schlumberger NV gained 0.8%.

At 8:50 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis were down 87 points, or 0.33%. S&P 500 e-minis were down 9.75 points, or 0.34% and Nasdaq 100 e-minis were down 39.5 points, or 0.51%.

Boeing Co was down 1.3% after the New York Times reported the company’s factory in South Carolina, which makes the 787 Dreamliner, has been plagued by shoddy production and weak oversight. Another report on Sunday said the planemaker rejected the allegations.

Tesla Inc fell 1.7% after the electric car company said it has sent a team to investigate a video on Chinese social media which showed a parked Tesla Model S car exploding. Chinese rival Nio Inc’s shares were also down 1.7%.

Kimberly-Clark Corp’s shares gained 3.4% and were on track to open at the highest level in nearly two years as the consumer products maker reported better-than-expected earnings. (Reporting by Sruthi Shankar and Amy Caren Daniel in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta)

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