August 15, 2019 / 12:08 PM / 2 months ago

US STOCKS-Futures rise in choppy trading, Walmart up on upbeat earnings

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* Futures up: Dow 0.47%, S&P 0.52%, Nasdaq 0.44%

By Amy Caren Daniel

Aug 15 (Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures turned positive in volatile trading on Thursday, as investors digested conflicting reports on U.S.-China trade dispute, while a jump in retail giant Walmart's shares helped dispel early gloom.

Futures initially dived after China's finance ministry said on Thursday it would take necessary counter-measures against the latest tariffs on $300 billion of Chinese goods.

But reports that China hoped the United States can meet it halfway on trade issues led to a turnaround in shares.

"It doesn't matter where we are right now. The number of variables affecting this market are increasing," said Andre Bakhos, managing director at New Vines Capital LLC in Bernardsville, New Jersey.

Walmart Inc shares rose 5.5% after the retailer reported second-quarter U.S. comparable sales that beat estimates and boosted its earnings forecast for the year.

In contrast, Dow component Cisco Systems Inc plunged 9.6% after the network gearmaker blamed the bruising trade war for poor quarterly forecasts.

The network gearmaker said prices of some items sold by the retailer have climbed due to tariffs on Chinese imports, but it is managing that pressure by negotiating with suppliers and sourcing from alternate supply bases.

The blue-chip Dow index posted its biggest one-day point drop since October on Wednesday as recession fears gripped the market after the U.S. Treasury yield curve inverted for the first time in 12 years.

Trade worries have plagued financial markets for at least a year fuelling fears of recession, and traders have raised their bets on three rate cuts this year including one in September to sustain a decade-long bull market run on Wall Street.

The benchmark S&P 500 is now 6.6% away from its all-time high hit in July.

At 7:56 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis were up 119 points, or 0.47%. S&P 500 e-minis were up 14.75 points, or 0.52% and Nasdaq 100 e-minis were up 33 points, or 0.44%.

In a heavy day for economic data, investors will be watching out for the Commerce Department's report, due at 8:30 a.m. ET, which will likely show retail sales rose 0.3% in July after a 0.4% gain a month earlier.

The U.S. Federal Reserve's industrial production data, due at 9:15 a.m. ET, is expected to rise 0.1%, compared to June's unchanged industrial output. (Reporting by Amy Caren Daniel in Bengaluru)

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