Stock futures flat with focus on progress in trade talks

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By Arjun Panchadar

(Reuters) – U.S. stock index futures treaded water on Tuesday, a day after Wall Street closed at record highs, as investors waited for the latest on the trade talks between the United States and China.

Beijing said on Tuesday negotiators had reached a “common understanding on resolving relevant problems”, but did not indicate if an agreement was in the offing.

The three main U.S. stock indexes have rallied this month, fueled by optimism over a deal to end the damaging trade war, a third-quarter corporate earnings season that has largely topped lowered expectations and upbeat domestic economic data.

But prospects of a pact, which was expected by mid-November, have been clouded by a U.S. legislation on human rights in Hong Kong. China said on Tuesday it had summoned the U.S. ambassador to protest against the bill.

A third interest rate cut by the Federal Reserve this year has also been instrumental in lifting risk appetite. Fed Chair Jerome Powell said on Monday monetary policy was “well positioned” to support the strong labor market.

Focus now turns to the Conference Board’s U.S. consumer confidence survey for November, due at 10 a.m. ET. The reading is expected to rise to 127 from 125.9 in October.

At 7:17 a.m. ET, were up just 7 points, or 0.02% and were up 0.75 points, or 0.01%. S&P 500 e-minis were down 0.75 points, or 0.02%.

Shares of Best Buy Co Inc (N:) jumped 5.3% after the consumer electronics retailer beat expectations for quarterly same-store sales and forecast strong holiday quarter earnings.

Hewlett Packard Enterprise Co (N:) fell 4.6% as the enterprise software maker missed fourth-quarter revenue estimates, hit by lower demand for its servers and storage products.

Cyber security firm Palo Alto Networks Inc (N:) tumbled 8.7% after forecasting second-quarter profit well below expectations, as it grapples with higher costs and rising competition.

Shares of Global Blood Therapeutics Inc (O:) rose 6.8% as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved its drug to treat sickle cell disease in adults and children 12 years or older.

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