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Futures Pointing To Roughly Flat Open On Wall Street - U.S. Commentary

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Stocks may show a lack of direction in early trading on Wednesday, extending the lackluster performance seen in the previous session. The major index futures are currently pointing to a roughly flat open, with the Dow futures down by just 16 points.

Traders may be reluctant to make significant moves as they wait for developments regarding the latest round of trade talks between the U.S. and China.

Officials from the U.S. and China are meeting in Washington this week as the world's two largest economies attempt to reach a long-term trade deal.

The U.S. and China currently face an early March deadline to strike an agreement, although President Donald Trump has suggested the deadline could be postponed.

An editorial by state-run Chinese newspaper the Global Times warned the global stock markets could face a "catastrophic strike" if Trump raises tariffs on Chinese goods as currently planned.

"In terms of avoiding such blows, the Trump administration is probably the most pressured," the Global Times wrote. "Thus in general, by the end of the trade negotiations, China and the US have become more psychologically equal."

"Both sides have showed their strength and volition in the unprecedented trade war: The US didn't easily stop and China was not that fragile to be defeated," the paper added. "However, it has proven no empty talk that in a long-term trade war, both sides would eventually lose."

Trump has claimed China is under pressure to avoid an increase in tariffs, citing recent weakness in the Chinese economy and stock markets.

Traders are also likely to look ahead to this afternoon's release of the minutes of the Federal Reserve's monetary policy meeting held in late January.

The minutes may shed additional light on the Fed's shift toward a "patient" approach regarding future interest rate hikes.

Stocks fluctuated over the course of the trading session on Tuesday as traders returned to their desks following the long holiday weekend.

After spending the morning bouncing back and forth across the unchanged line, the major averages climbed more firmly into positive territory in the afternoon.

The major averages pulled back going into the close but still ended the day modestly higher. The Dow inched up 8.07 points or less than a tenth of a percent to 25,891.32, the Nasdaq rose 14.36 points or 0.2 percent to 7,486.77 and the S&P 500 edged up 4.16 points or 0.2 percent to 2,779.76.

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region moved mostly higher during trading on Wednesday. Japan's Nikkei 225 Index climbed by 0.6 percent, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index jumped by 1 percent.

The major European markets have also moved to the upside on the day. While the German DAX Index has risen by 0.4 percent, the French CAC 40 Index is up by 0.3 percent and the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index is up by 0.2 percent.

In commodities trading, crude oil futures are sliding $0.39 to $55.70 a barrel after climbing $0.50 to $56.09 a barrel on Tuesday. Meanwhile, after soaring $22.70 to $1,344.80 an ounce in the previous session, gold futures are inching up $1.40 to $1,346.20 an ounce.

On the currency front, the U.S. dollar is trading at 110.77 yen compared to the 110.63 yen it fetched at the close of New York trading on Tuesday. Against the euro, the dollar is valued at $1.1338 compared to yesterday's $1.1341.

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