US futures point to slightly lower open

U.S. stock index futures were slightly lower on Thursday morning.

At around 6:15 a.m. ET, Dow futures indicated a negative open of more than 15 points. Futures on the S&P and Nasdaq were both seen marginally lower.

Market focus is largely attuned to global trade developments after a report from the Wall Street Journal suggested China had invited American negotiators to Beijing for a fresh round of trade talks.

During a phone call thought to have been made late last week, Chinese Vice Premier Liu He reportedly invited U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to Beijing to sit down for further negotiations.


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It was not clear whether U.S. negotiators had accepted Liu’s invitation. However, the Wall Street Journal’s report said that U.S. trade officials were willing to meet with their Chinese counterparts.

The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative was not immediately available for comment when contacted by CNBC on Thursday morning.

The report comes after U.S. legislation on Hong Kong had threatened to derail trade discussions between the world’s two largest economies.

On Wednesday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed two bills intended to support protestors in Hong Kong. It prompted Beijing to accuse the U.S. of interfering in domestic affairs.

The U.S. and China have imposed tariffs on billions of dollars’ worth of one another’s goods since the start of 2018, battering financial markets and souring business and consumer sentiment.

Data, earnings

On the data front, the latest weekly jobless claims and Philadelphia Fed manufacturing figures for November will be released at 8:30 a.m. ET. Existing home sales for October will follow slightly later in the session.

Market participants are likely to closely monitor speeches from policymakers at the U.S. central bank on Thursday. Cleveland Fed President Loretta Mester and Minneapolis Fed President Neel Kashkari are both expected to comment on the world’s largest economy.

In corporate news, Macy’s, Berry Global, and BJ’s Wholesale will report earnings before the opening bell. Gap, Intuit, and Splunk are among some of the companies poised to release their latest quarterly results after market close.

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