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US STOCKS-Futures flat as focus turns to presidential debate

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* Futures off: Dow 0.07%, S&P 500 0.06%, Nasdaq 0.20%

Sept 29 (Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures were flat on Tuesday as investors stayed away from making big bets ahead of the first presidential debate, while awaiting a reading on consumer confidence.

President Donald Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden will square off later in the day in their first 90-minute televised debate in Cleveland, Ohio, five weeks before the election. Polls show Biden leading Trump nationally and in a number of key battleground states.

Wall Street’s main indexes closed sharply higher on Monday as bargain hunting for some laggard sectors, including energy and financials, sparked a broad based rally.

A clutch of underwhelming macro-economic data, increase in virus cases and uncertainty related to the presidential election have weighed on markets, putting all three main indexes on track for their worst monthly performance since pandemic-related lockdowns.

However, as the third quarter comes to an end and despite September’s expected decline, the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq are set for their best two-quarter winning streaks since 2009 and 2000, respectively.

At 6:40 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis were down 19 points, or 0.07%. S&P 500 e-minis were down 2 points, or 0.06% and Nasdaq 100 e-minis were down 22.5 points, or 0.2%.

Consumer confidence data for September could show signs of slowing recovery from the pandemic-driven recession. The report is expected at 10 a.m. ET.

Among stocks, Sorrento Therapeutics rose 8% in premarket trading after the drugmaker said both of its COVID-19 antibody candidates showed potent neutralizing activities against the novel coronavirus in a study in Syrian golden hamsters. (Reporting by Devik Jain in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D’Silva)

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