July 31, 2019 / 11:35 AM / 4 months ago

US STOCKS-Futures drift higher on Apple results; Fed rate decision awaited

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* Apple shares jump on upbeat earnings, forecast

* Modest drop in U.S. borrowing costs widely expected

* Futures up: Dow 0.25%, S&P 500 0.17%, Nasdaq 0.38%

By Shreyashi Sanyal

July 31 (Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures edged higher on Wednesday, as trade worries eased after Apple reported upbeat earnings and forecast, while investors awaited an almost certain cut in interest rates by the Federal Reserve.

The iPhone maker beat quarterly profit and revenue expectations, and forecast strong sales for the current quarter. Apple's greater China sales dipped only slightly, assuaging concerns that trade tensions were undermining the company's standing in one of its most important markets.

The Nasdaq 100 e-minis pointed to a 0.4% rise for the tech-heavy index, helped by Apple's 4.3% jump in premarket trading.

The U.S.-China trade talks concluded on Wednesday without any major breakthrough and the Chinese commerce ministry said the two sides will meet again in the United States in September.

This comes a day after President Donald Trump warned Beijing against trying to wait out his first term in office to finalize a deal, sending jitters through global financial markets.

Meanwhile, market participants are expecting a quarter-percentage-point cut in borrowing costs by the U.S. central bank. All eyes will now be on Fed Chairman Jerome Powell, who is set to hold a news conference after the rates decision at 2 p.m. EDT (1800 GMT), to explain why the move was necessary and what comes next.

"It's Fed day and investors will ponder the language of the communique as a 25 basis point cut is already expected," said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at Spartan Capital Securities in New York.

Wall Street's main indexes have had a strong run since a steep selloff in May, with the S&P 500 index now up 20% for the year as investors hoped that a modest rate cut would help combat slowing growth and boost tame inflation.

At 7:14 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis were up 67 points, or 0.25%. S&P 500 e-minis were up 5.25 points, or 0.17% and Nasdaq 100 e-minis were up 30 points, or 0.38%.

Also on the radar was the ADP National Employment Report due at 8:15 a.m. ET, often considered a precursor to the Labor Department's more comprehensive monthly non-farm payrolls data.

It is expected to show private employers added 150,000 jobs last month, compared to an addition of 102,000 jobs in June. The Labor Department's jobs report for the month of July is due on Friday.

Among other stocks, Electronic Arts Inc rose 6.7% after the video game publisher posted quarterly revenue beat, riding on the continued success of its battle royale game "Apex Legends".

Advanced Micro Devices Inc's shares fell 5% after it forecast third-quarter revenue below Wall Street estimates, hit by lower demand for its chips used in gaming consoles.

Its downbeat forecast weighed on Micron Technology, Nvidia Corp and Intel Corp, which were trading down between 0.4% and 1.5%.

General Electric Co's shares rose 5% after the industrial conglomerate said it has started a search for a new chief financial officer following the exit of Jamie Miller. The company also said it swung back to a financial loss during the second quarter. (Reporting by Shreyashi Sanyal in Bengaluru; Editing by Arun Koyyur)

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