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Wall Street set for flat open, big bank earnings mixed

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(Reuters) - Wall Street was set to open largely flat on Tuesday, as investors took a breather following a record rally on optimism over the U.S.-China trade deal, while the big U.S. banks reported mixed quarterly results.

The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq indexes set new all-time highs on Monday, helped by bets that the expected Phase 1 U.S.-China trade deal will spur a rebound in global growth and on easing Middle East tensions.

Kicking off fourth-quarter earnings, the largest U.S. bank JPMorgan Chase & Co (JPM.N) rose 1.1% in premarket trading after its quarterly profit beat estimates as strength in its trading and underwriting businesses offset weakness in consumer banking.

Wells Fargo & Co (WFC.N) slid 3.4% after reporting a 55% slump in profit, as it set aside $1.5 billion toward legal expenses, while Citigroup Inc (C.N) rose 0.3% as it topped Wall Street profit estimates.

Analysts expect profits at S&P 500 companies to drop 0.7% for the second consecutive quarter, according to Refinitiv IBES data, largely due to a drag in energy and industrial earnings that have been hit by a prolonged trade war.

China has pledged to buy nearly an additional $80 billion of manufactured goods from the United States over the next two years, plus over $50 billion more in energy supplies, Reuters reported, citing a source briefed on the trade deal that is expected to be signed on Wednesday.

“Expectations are for flat to negative earnings this quarter and I don’t think there are any surprises,” said Peter Cecchini, chief market strategist at Cantor Fitzgerald in New York.

“Investors are requiring an earnings inflection next year, and if we don’t get it, that will be the catalyst for risk-off (trading).”

Delta Air Lines Inc (DAL.N) rose 3.8% after reporting a better-than-expected quarterly profit, boosted by customers gained from rival airlines’ 737 MAX cancellations.

Videogame retailer GameStop Corp (GME.N) tumbled 12.5% after cutting its fiscal 2019 outlook for profit and same-store sales.

At 08:52 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis 1YMcv1 were up 28 points, or 0.10%. S&P 500 e-minis EScv1 were down 0.5 points, or 0.02% and Nasdaq 100 e-minis NQcv1 were down 0.25 points.

Meanwhile, data showed U.S. consumer prices rose slightly in December and monthly underlying inflation pressures retreated, giving the Federal Reserve room to keep interest rates unchanged at least through this year.

Reporting by Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta

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