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US STOCKS-Wall Street set to open lower amid Russia probe, Fed pick
October 30, 2017 / 1:02 PM / in a month

US STOCKS-Wall Street set to open lower amid Russia probe, Fed pick

* Manafort surrenders in U.S. Russia probe - reports

* U.S. September consumer spending rises

* Merck dips after European application for Keytruda pulled

* GM lower after brokerage downgrade

* Futures down : Dow 47 pts, S&P 4.75 pts, Nasdaq 0.25 pts (Adds details, comment, updates prices)

By Sruthi Shankar

Oct 30 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks were seen easing on Monday after a record rally last week as investors waited for a decision on the next Federal Reserve head and assessed the first charges in connection with a probe into possible Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. election.

U.S. President Donald Trump is leaning toward nominating Fed Governor Jerome Powell, considered a moderate, to be the next Fed chair, sources told Reuters. A Politico report said an announcement could be made on Thursday.

Paul Manafort, a former campaign manager for Trump, surrendered to federal authorities, according to reports, following a special counsel investigation of possible Russian meddling in the election.

“The market could be awakening to the fact that the political situation is coming back into focus ... that could cap the market from moving higher,” said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at First Standard Financial.

“This is a very heavy week in terms of macro news. While earnings continue to pour in, majority of the market is now going to focus on the Fed.”

Commerce Department data showed consumer spending recorded its biggest increase in more than eight years in September, but underlying inflation remained muted.

With the third-quarter earnings season more than half-way through, nearly 74 percent of the S&P 500 companies that have reported earnings so far have topped profit expectations, compared with 72 percent overall the past four quarters.

Blockbuster tech earnings last week powered Nasdaq to its best day in nearly a year. Apple and Facebook are the top tech companies reporting this week.

Dow e-minis were down 53 points, or 0.23 percent, with 21,863 contracts changing hands at 8:36 a.m. ET (1236 GMT). S&P 500 e-minis were down 5.5 points, or 0.21 percent, with 135,130 contracts traded.

Nasdaq 100 e-minis were up 2 points, or 0.03 percent, on volume of 30,988 contracts.

Among stocks, General Motors fell nearly 3 percent in premarket trading after Goldman Sachs downgraded the company’s stock to “sell” from “neutral”.

Merck dipped 5 percent after the company said it withdrew an application for European use of its Keytruda cancer immunotherapy.

Advanced Micro Devices slipped 3.9 percent after Morgan Stanley downgraded the stock to “underweight” from “equalweight”. (Reporting by Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty)

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