October 11, 2017 / 1:09 PM / a year ago

US STOCKS-Sluggish mood on Wall St as earnings season kicks off

* Micron Technology dips after launching $1 bln stock offering

* BlackRock, Delta Air Lines both beat Q3 expectations

* FOMC releases minutes from Sept policy meeting at 2:00 p.m. ET

* Futures down less than 0.1 percent across board (Adds details, comments, updates prices)

By Sruthi Shankar

Oct 11 (Reuters) - Wall Street's main indexes were set to inch down at opening on Wednesday, strong results for the world's biggest asset manager, BlackRock and an upbeat mood in Europe failing to offset caution about third quarter corporate results.

BlackRock and Delta Air Lines both reported profit that beat expectations, among the first major companies to kick off the earnings season.

Wall Street banks JPMorgan Chase and Citigroup both report on Thursday.

Strong earnings as well as hopes of tax relief, despite little progress by the Trump administration, have pushed stocks to fresh highs this year. But analysts warn bank results will be held back by a lack of volatility compared to a year ago.

"Third quarter results of large banks are expected to be tepid," said Stephen Biggar, an analyst at Argus Research. "Trading revenue (will be) down due to low volatility and loan growth remaining flat to slightly negative."

With the S&P 500 up 14 percent in 2017, investors are betting on strong earnings growth elsewhere among major U.S. companies.

Earnings at S&P 500 companies are expected to have risen 4.8 percent last quarter, according to Thomson Reuters data, less than the double-digit growth in the first two quarters.

"It's only a question of valuations, if they've gotten a little bit ahead of themselves, even though the earnings story remains positive," said Scott Brown, chief economist at Raymond James in St. Petersburg, Florida. "Time will tell, I guess."


Of interest will be minutes, due at 2:00 p.m. ET (1800 GMT), to the Federal Reserve's September policy meeting, when it left interest rates unchanged but signaled one more hike was still on the cards by the end of 2017.

Worried by signs the U.S. economy had peaked, the Fed has slowed since raising rates twice within three months at the start of this year.

"There may not be any new information, but the market will be susceptible to any sort of negative headline that might come out," Brown said.

A Labor Department report at 10:00 a.m. ET is likely to show job openings, a measure of labor demand, fell to 6.125 million in August, from 6.170 million the month before.

The dollar dipped to a 12-day low on worries that a feud with influential Tennessee Senator Bob Corker would undermine President Donald Trump's efforts to pass tax changes.

At 8:34 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis were down just 4 points with 16,605 contracts changing hands.

S&P 500 e-minis dipped 1.75 points with 99,354 contracts traded and Nasdaq 100 e-minis 5.25 points, or 0.09 percent, on volume of 19,534 contracts.

Among early movers, Micron Technology dipped 2.50 percent after launching a $1 billion stock offering to cut debt.

General Electric slipped about 1 percent after JPMorgan cut its price target on the stock by $2 to $20.

Airline stocks including United Continental and American Airlines rose about 1 percent after Delta's quarterly profit beat expectations.

Barracuda Networks tumbled 9.32 percent after the data security seller reported a fall in profit. (Reporting by Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru; editing by Patrick Graham)

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