May 18, 2018 / 1:13 PM / 8 days ago

US STOCKS-Wall St set to open lower, trade talks in focus

* China denies offering to cut $200 bln in U.S. trade surplus

* Brent crude eyes sixth straight week of gains

* 10-yr Treasury yield holds above 3 pct mark for fourth day

* Applied Materials falls after results

* Futures down: Dow 0.02 pct, S&P 0.17 pct, Nasdaq 0.42 pct (Adds comment, adds details, updates prices)

By Medha Singh

May 18 (Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures were lower on Friday as technology shares slipped, while investors waited for the outcome of Sino-U.S. trade talks.

China denied it had offered to cut its trade surplus with the United States by up to $200 billion, hours after it dropped an anti-dumping probe into U.S. sorghum imports, but added that talks were constructive.

The world’s two biggest economies are seeking to bridge a divide on trade issues during the two-day talks in Washington that began on Thursday.

“The focus today will be on trade talks as China denied any major reductions in surplus and the NAFTA talks progression” said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at Spartan Capital Securities in New York.

Among technology stocks, Alphabet fell 1.3 percent in premarket trading and is expected to weigh on the major indexes.

Applied Materials dropped 6.2 percent after the chip gear maker’s disappointing forecast renewed concerns over slowing smartphone demand.

Campbell Soup declined 8.8 percent after the company cut its full-year earnings forecast and said Chief Executive Officer Denise Morrison would step down.

At 8:55 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis were down 5 points, or 0.02 percent. S&P 500 e-minis were down 4.75 points, or 0.17 percent and Nasdaq 100 e-minis were down 29 points, or 0.42 percent.

“We’re looking at a mixed session today. We still have the dollar creeping up again, rates pretty much doing nothing.”

Investors have been fretting about rising interest rates, with the 10-year Treasury yield, the benchmark for global borrowing costs, holding above the key 3 percent level for the fourth day.

Tractor maker Deere reported a rise in quarterly sales, but profits were dragged down by higher freight and material costs. Its shares were up 0.4 percent.

The company’s results reflect concerns of big U.S. manufacturers, which have warned of higher raw material costs amid a surge in commodity prices and rising interest rates.

Oil prices continued their surge, with Brent crude on track for the sixth straight week of gains, boosted by strong demand, looming sanctions on Iran, plummeting Venezuelan production and Nigerian disruptions.

Nordstrom declined 8.1 percent after the upscale department store operator reported same-store sales that missed analysts’ estimates. (Reporting by Medha Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D’Silva)

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