US STOCKS-Wall St set for flat open; Trump conference in focus

Last Updated: Wed, Jan 11, 2017 19:40 hrs

* Trump news conference set for 11:00 a.m. ET

* Dollar rises ahead of Trump speech

* Merck up on FDA review update

* Futures: Dow up 2 pts, S&P down 2 pts, Nasdaq up 0.75 pt (Adds details, comments, updates prices)

By Yashaswini Swamynathan

Jan 11 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks were set open largely flat on Wednesday, ahead of President-elect Donald Trump's first formal news conference, where he is expected to give more insight into his plans to boost economic growth.

Trump, who takes office on Jan. 20, is scheduled to speak in New York at 11:00 a.m. ET (1600 GMT).

Trump's election in November sparked a record-setting rally. But, investors now want evidence on if and how he keeps his campaign-trail promises of stimulating the economy though increased public spending, tax cuts and repatriating U.S. companies' funds from overseas.

The dollar, which has also basked in Trump's victory, was up against the yen. However, concerns of some of his protectionist statements have kept investors wary.

Keeping futures afloat were oil prices, which edged up for the first time in three days after Saudi Arabia provided details of a February supply cut to some of its Asian customers.

"The overall technical picture for the stock market remains firm and we look for commodities to be the market leaders of the day, thereby, keeping the markets upward trend in place," Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at First Standard Financial, said in a note.

Dow e-minis were up 2 points, or 0.01 percent at 8:47 a.m. ET, with 21,832 contracts changing hands.

S&P 500 e-minis were down 2 points, or 0.09 percent, with 123,587 contracts traded. Nasdaq 100 e-minis were up 0.75 points, or 0.01 percent, on volume of 19,484 contracts.

Investors are also closely watching the corporate earnings season, which kicks off with big banks on Friday, to see if financial results can support the lofty valuations Wall Street is trading at.

The combined profit of S&P 500 companies is estimated to have risen 5.8 percent in the fourth quarter - the best in three years - largely helped by financials stocks, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

The S&P 500 ended flat on Tuesday, while the Nasdaq logged a record close due to gains in healthcare and technology stocks.

New York Federal Reserve President William Dudley is expected to speak on banking regulations at 01:20 p.m. ET.

Among stocks, Dow component Merck rose 3.2 percent to $61.84 premarket after the FDA agreed to a speedy review of the company's application to combine immunotherapy with other drugs to treat lung cancer.

AstraZeneca and Bristol-Myers, which are also developing similar therapies, were down 1.2 percent and 3.3 percent, respectively.

Mylan rose nearly 2 percent to $39.72 after the FDA accepted a biologics license application for the company and Biocon's proposed biosimilar to treat breast cancer. (Reporting by Yashaswini Swamynathan in Bengaluru; Editing by Savio D'Souza)



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