US pre-open: Stocks called to open slightly lower as high-level trade talks kick off
US futures had stocks opening slightly lower on Thursday as market participants were keeping a keen eye on the status of high-level trade talks between Washington and Beijing.
As of 1235 BST, Dow futures were down 0.15%, while S&P 500 and Nasdaq-100 futures had the indices opening 0.11% and 0.06% weaker, respectively.
The Dow closed 181.97 points higher on Wednesday after reports circulated that Beijing was open to a partial trade deal with Washington.
However, sentiment took a hit early on Thursday after a report from the South China Morning Post stated neither side had made any real progress in deputy-level trade talks earlier in the week.
The report also said that Chinese Vice Premier Liu He and US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer would now only hold one day of talks, with the Chinese delegation planning to depart Washington on Thursday, instead of Friday, as originally scheduled.
The White House later claimed the report was inaccurate and said it was "not aware of a change in the Vice Premier's travel plans at this time."
Overnight, Bloomberg reported that the US was considering an agreement to suspend next week's tariff increase in exchange for a currency pact, while the New York Times revealed that the Trump administration would grant licenses for multiple US companies to sell non-sensitive supplies to Chinese tech giant Huawei.
London Capital Group's Jasper Lawler said: "Investors are waiting for the conclusion of these talks before taking their next move. With trade talks concluded and earnings season about to kick-off, we'd expect volatility to pick up heading into next week.
"There are clearly many issues that can derail these talks but the concept of a 'partial deal' has breathed new life into the idea of a pre-US election agreement. Even if a partial deal can be defined as something as simple as less tariffs and more agricultural purchases, the current situation would be much less antagonistic with better prospects of ending the trade war."
On the data front, September's consumer price index will be released at 1330 BST, as will initial jobless claims figures for the week ended 5 October.
In Fed speak, Loretta Mester and Raphael Bostic were both scheduled to deliver speeches throughout the course of the day.
In corporate news, Delta Air Lines will post its most recent quarterly results ahead of the bell.