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U.S. Futures Point to Opening Gain as Mnuchin Flies to China for Trade Talks

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02/11/2019 | 07:25am EST

By Akane Otani

U.S. stock futures edged higher Monday as U.S. officials arrived in Beijing to start another round of trade negotiations with China.

After trading around the flatline for much of the morning, S&P 500 futures and Dow Jones Industrial Average futures rose 0.2% apiece. Changes in futures don't necessarily reflect moves after the opening bell.

The Stoxx Europe 600 rose 0.6%, while major indexes in Asia ended mixed.

Investors are starting the week with a close eye on trade talks between Washington and Beijing, with U.S. trade representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin landing in Beijing Monday and scheduled to meet with China's vice premier later in the week.

The talks could spark fresh volatility for financial markets. Stocks rose in January on fresh hopes that the U.S. and China would be able to carve out a trade deal, but some of that optimism appeared to lose steam last week as investors parsed a stream of downbeat economic data.

Data Monday showed U.K. gross domestic product grew last year at the slowest pace since 2012. The British pound fell to session lows following the report, although it pared its losses to trade down 0.1% against the U.S. dollar. The FTSE 100 -- whose multinationals tend to benefit from a weaker pound -- rose 0.3%.

"There's this belief that this is going to very quickly resolve itself, and I think the reality is that there are very complicated long-term issues on the trade relationship between the two most powerful economies around the world," said Jonathan Golub, chief U.S. equity strategist at Credit Suisse.

While economic growth in the U.S. still looks relatively steady, Mr. Golub cautioned that an unexpected breakdown in trade talks remain a major market risk.

"I'm actually quite optimistic about the broad backdrop -- but that doesn't mean that there's no risk," he said.

Corporate news drove swings in individual stocks on Monday.

Gold miner Acacia Mining rose 1.3% after breaking out to a profit in 2018, while online food delivery service Just Eat jumped 2% after a major shareholder urged it to seek a merger.

In the U.S., the pace of earnings releases has begun to slow down, although investors are expecting to get quarterly results from companies including Everest Re Group and Chegg after the closing bell Monday.

Elsewhere, the Shanghai Composite jumped 1.4% to a two-month high, while Japan's Nikkei Stock Average was shut for a holiday and Hong Kong's Hang Seng rose 0.6%.

Write to Akane Otani at akane.otani@wsj.com

Stocks mentioned in the article
ChangeLast1st jan.
CHINA-SHANGHAI COMP -1.37% 2682.39 End-of-day quote.7.39%
DJ INDUSTRIAL 1.74% 25883.25 Delayed Quote.9.05%
FTSE 100 INDEX 0.28% 7234.11 End-of-day quote.0.00%
HANG SENG -1.94% 27863.12 Real-time Quote.9.94%
NASDAQ 100 0.47% 7055.1793 Delayed Quote.11.46%
NASDAQ COMP. 0.61% 7472.4101 Delayed Quote.12.62%
NIKKEI 225 -1.13% 20900.63 Real-time Quote.4.43%
S&P 500 1.09% 2775.6 Delayed Quote.9.53%
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