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Wall Street set for muted open on simmering U.S.-China tensions

Kitco News

(Reuters) - U.S. stock indexes were set for a near-flat open on Friday as investors weighed hopes of more stimulus to revive an ailing economy against simmering Sino-U.S. trade tensions.

China on Friday unveiled details about its plan to impose a national security law in Hong Kong that could see mainland intelligence agencies set up bases in the global financial hub, raising fears of more pro-democracy protests.

Reports of the law on Thursday had drawn fire from President Donald Trump, toppling Wall Street’s main indexes from multi-month highs that were hit on optimism around a revival in business activity with the easing of coronavirus-led lockdowns.

“Market sentiment is really vulnerable to expensive valuation at the moment,” said Andrea Cicione, head of strategy at TS Lombard.

“After the shock of the COVID-19 lockdown, we have to go through a regular recession with high unemployment, low capex, low demand and that’s not what’s priced in at the moment.”

At 8:37 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis were up 21 points, or 0.09%. S&P 500 e-minis were up 2.5 points, or 0.09% and Nasdaq 100 e-minis were down 9 points, or 0.1%.

A swathe of mixed retail earnings from Walmart Inc, Best Buy Co Inc and Home Depot Inc earlier in the week had shown online shopping gaining traction due to the stay-at-home orders.

On Friday, Chinese e-commerce behemoth Alibaba Group reported a better-than-expected quarterly profit, but its shares slipped 1.6%. Smaller rival Pinduoduo Inc’s U.S.-listed shares gained 1.2% after its own upbeat quarterly earnings report.

Hewlett Packard Enterprise fell 7.3% after missing second-quarter revenue and profit estimates, hit by global lockdowns since February.

Data analytics software maker Splunk Inc rose 5.8% after saying it expects higher demand for its cloud services as people around the world take to working from home.

Reporting by Ambar Warrick in Bengaluru and Pawel Goraj in Gdynia; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty and Arun Koyyur

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