Stocks set to open mixed amid weak data, US-China trade talks

Finance news

U.S. stock futures are pointing to a flat open on the final trading day of the week as investors digest soft economic data and monitor developing trade talks with China.

As of 2:35 a.m. ET, Dow futures rose 7 points, indicating a flat open points. S&P 500 and Nasdaq futures traded barely above the flatline.

On Thursday, stocks fell as traders reacted to weak economic data, fueling fears of a potential slowdown in the world’s largest economy.

Durable goods orders for December rose 1.2 percent, the Commerce Department said. The department also said core capital goods orders fell 0.7 percent while economists polled by Reuters expected a gain of 0.2 percent.

The Philadelphia Federal Reserve business index fell to negative 4.1 in February — its lowest level since May 2016 — from 17 in January. Economists polled by Dow Jones expected a print of 14.

Meanwhile, market players also monitored the latest round of negotiations between Washington and Beijing. Optimism has risen over the chances of both countries securing a deal to end their protracted trade war, but some experts say the most difficult part is yet to come as high level talks continue into Friday.

“There’s obviously an incentive for both sides to reach a deal,” James Athey, senior investment manager at Aberdeen Standard Investments, told CNBC “Squawk Box Europe” on Friday.

“The problem is that you’re now getting to the more difficult part of the negotiation, which is things like the IP (intellectual property) problem.”

One of President Donald Trump’s biggest contentions with Beijing is the claim that the country has stolen intellectual property and trade secrets from American companies. Both nations are a week away from a March 1 deadline to secure a trade deal, however speculation has risen there may be an extension to that target.

Elsewhere, a flurry of speeches from Fed policymakers are due throughout the day, with New York Fed President John Williams, San Francisco Fed President Mary Daly, Philadelphia Fed Chairman Patrick Harker and St. Louis Fed President James Bullard expected to speak on the U.S. economy and monetary policy at separate events.

– CNBC’s Fred Imbert contributed to this report.

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