July 23, 2018 / 1:19 PM / 3 months ago

US STOCKS-Wall Street to open flat; manufacturing, tech earnings in focus

* ITW slumps after cutting FY profit forecast due to dollar

* LifePoint Health surges on $5.6 bln deal

* Dollar’s strength, trade war fears weigh on sentiment

* Tesla falls after report on supplier talks

* Futures: Dow and S&P flat, Nasdaq dips 0.22 pct (Adds analyst comment; updates details, prices)

By Amy Caren Daniel

July 23 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks were set for a flat opening on Monday as investors awaited quarterly reports from a clutch of big U.S. manufacturers to gauge the impact of an escalating trade conflict between the United States and China.

With some companies already reporting a hit from the trade war, investors will assess the earnings of the 180 S&P 500 companies, including Ford Motor, 3M Co and Boeing , scheduled for later this week.

A host of high-flying technology names will also be releasing results. Google-parent Alphabet is set to post results after markets close on Monday, while Facebook , Twitter and Intel report later in the week.

Investors are also worried that the U.S.-Sino trade war could spill over to the currency markets. President Donald Trump has criticized the dollar’s strength, while accusing China of manipulating the yuan, which Beijing has denied.

The dollar hit a one-year high last week, which can eat into U.S. companies’ overseas revenue.

“We have a whole plate of issues for investors to deal with, including currency manipulation, which is going to tie into the trade war,” said Andre Bakhos, managing director at New Vines Capital LLC in Bernardsville, New Jersey.

“Investors are waiting for more earnings news to create a convincing direction for the market.”

Second-quarter earnings season has been healthy so far, with analysts’ profit growth forecast now at 22 percent, up from 20.7 percent on July 1, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

About 84 percent of the 87 S&P 500 companies that have reported so far have topped profit expectations, compared with the average of 75 percent over the past four quarters.

At 8:44 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis were up 1 points, or 0 percent. S&P 500 e-minis were up 0.25 points, or 0.01 percent, and Nasdaq 100 e-minis were down 16.5 points, or 0.22 percent.

Investors will also keep an eye on the bond market, where yield on the U.S. 10-year Treasury note hit a one-month high of 2.90 percent after Reuters reported that the Bank of Japan was discussing modifying its huge easing program.

“Markets will handle that and digest it in the normal course of business,” said Bakhos.

Among stocks, shares of Illinois Tool Works dropped 6 percent in premarket trading after the industrial company cut its full-year profit forecast and margins forecast, blaming the strong dollar.

Tesla’s shares fell 3.1 percent after a report that the electric car maker has turned to some suppliers for a refund of previously made payments in a bid to turn a profit.

Hasbro rose 11.3 percent after the toymaker’s quarterly revenue and profit topped analysts’ estimates.

Hospital operator LifePoint Health surged 33.7 percent on agreeing to be bought by Apollo Global Management LLC in a deal valued at about $5.6 billion.

Halliburton’s shares fell 1.3 percent after the oilfield services provider reported its quarterly results.

On the macro front, economic data at 10 a.m. ET is expected to show existing home sales rose to 5.44 million units in June, after slipping 0.4 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.43 million units in May. (Reporting by Amy Caren Daniel in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila)

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