May 1, 2018 / 11:55 AM / 25 days ago

US STOCKS-Futures little changed as trade, inflation worries persist

* Futures up: Dow 2 pts, S&P 1.75 pts, Nasdaq 4.75 pts

By Sruthi Shankar

May 1 (Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures treaded water on Tuesday, as strong earnings failed to excite investors who instead fretted about inflation, rising costs and protectionist policies.

At 7:28 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis were up 2 points, or 0.01 percent. S&P 500 e-minis were up 1.75 points, or 0.07 percent and Nasdaq 100 e-minis were up 4.75 points, or 0.07 percent.

Trading volumes could be light as most financial centers across Europe and Asia were closed on account of May Day.

U.S. equity index futures got some reprieve overnight after President Donald Trump postponed the imposition of steel and aluminum tariffs on Canada, the European Union and Mexico until June 1, and reached agreements for permanent exemptions for Argentina, Australia and Brazil.

The decision comes ahead of Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin’s highly anticipated trip to China later this week, to discuss trade issues.

Pfizer fell 1.7 percent despite the largest U.S. drugmaker reporting a better-than-expected profit.

Merck edged 1.1 percent higher after it reported a profit that beat estimates and the company raised earnings forecast for the year.

Apple, the world’s biggest publicly traded company, comes out with results after market closes on Tuesday. All eyes will be on the earnings report as recent warnings from some chipmakers, on softening demand for iPhones and other top-end models, took a toll on Apple’s shares.

The U.S. Federal Reserve begins its two-day monetary policy meeting on Tuesday. Although no change in policy rates is expected, investors will watch for clues on whether three more rate hikes are due for the rest of 2018.

A rally in oil and other commodity prices have raised fears about higher raw material costs. Some companies, including Caterpillar and Procter & Gamble, have flagged such concerns this earnings season.

Oil, which is near 2014 highs, surged on Monday after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu presented what he called evidence of a secret Iranian nuclear weapons program.

The prices were slightly down on Tuesday on worries that Trump would pull out of the Iran nuclear deal. (Reporting by Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta)

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