December 20, 2019 / 2:16 PM / a month ago

US STOCKS-Wall St set to stay at record levels as trade optimism lingers

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* Nike dips as North America revenue disappoints

* U.S. Steel falls 8% on dour forecast

* November core PCE price index in focus

* Futures up at record highs: Dow 0.14%, S&P 0.12%, Nasdaq 0.25% (Adds comment)

By Uday Sampath Kumar

Dec 20 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks were set to open nearly unchanged from record highs on Friday as investors stayed optimistic that Washington and Beijing would sign a long-awaited trade treaty early in the new year.

Wall Street hit all-time highs again on Thursday as U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the initial trade deal had been penned down and would be signed in early January, dispelling fears of another escalation in the tariff dispute.

Beijing, however, later dodged questions about specific details of the agreement, giving the market little reason to go much higher than current levels ahead of the Christmas holidays.

“The skies have cleared up this December to the point where investors are coming back into the market,” said Art Hogan, chief market strategist at National Securities in New York.

All three major stock indexes have been on a record-setting run for over a week, carried by improving trade relations between the world’s top two economies and upbeat economic indicators.

The S&P 500 has risen over 1% so far this week, hitting a sixth straight intraday record high in the previous session. With gains nearly 28% this year, the benchmark index is eyeing its best annual performance since 2013.

Markets are likely to become volatile during Friday’s session due to “quadruple witching,” where investors unwind positions in futures and options contracts before their expiration.

At 8:56 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis were up 39 points, or 0.14%. S&P 500 e-minis were up 3.75 points, or 0.12% and Nasdaq 100 e-minis were up 21.5 points, or 0.25%.

Later on Friday, a report from the Commerce Department is expected to show core personal consumption expenditures price index rose 0.1% in November.

In one of the last major corporate earnings results of the year, Nike Inc reported lower-than-expected growth in North American revenue, sending shares of the world’s largest sportswear maker down 1.2% premarket.

U.S. Steel Corp tumbled 8% after forecasting a bigger-than-expected fourth-quarter loss and saying it would idle a significant part of its operations at a facility near Detroit.

Boeing Co’s biggest supplier, Spirit AeroSystems Inc dropped 3.4% after saying it would temporarily halt production of 737 MAX parts beginning Jan. 1. Boeing shares dipped 0.3%.

Reporting by Uday Sampath and C Nivedita in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta and Saumyadeb Chakrabarty

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