Wall Street Cautious Ahead of Crucial Trump-Xi Trade Meeting

(Reuters) – U.S. stocks seesawed between slight gains and losses on Friday, as investors kept away from making big bets ahead of a trade meeting between the United States and China that could decide the course of a bitter trade dispute between the two economies.

Markets have been roiled by conflicting headlines in the run up to the high stakes trade talk, but found some relief after U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said he would be surprised if Saturday’s dinner between U.S. President Donald Trump and China’s Xi Jinping “wasn’t a success”.

Trump said on Friday there were some good signs ahead of his meeting with Xi on the sidelines of the annual gathering of 20 industrialized nations which began in Buenos Aires.

On Thursday, however, Trump had said he was close to making a deal but was not sure if he wants to do it.

Meanwhile, Beijing said it hoped to persuade Trump to abandon plans to hike tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese goods to 25 percent in January from 10 percent at present.

“The next big thing that would cause the markets to rally would be a de-escalation of the trade war and until that point the markets will follow a bit of a holding pattern,” said Rick Meckler, partner, Cherry Lane Investments, in New Vernon, New Jersey.

Dovish comments from Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell and the latest Fed minutes have helped the benchmark S&P 500 rise 4 percent this week, setting it on course to post its biggest percentage gain in nine months.

At 12:49 a.m. EDT the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 30.51 points, or 0.12 percent, at 25,308.33, the S&P 500 was up 3.73 points, or 0.14 percent, at 2,741.49 and the Nasdaq Composite was up 6.41 points, or 0.09 percent, at 7,279.49.

Energy stocks fell 0.51 percent, leading

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