Wall Street treads water ahead of Trump-Xi trade talk

© Reuters. Traders work on the floor at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York City

By Amy Caren Daniel

(Reuters) – U.S. stocks were trading flat on Friday as investors stayed away from making bets ahead of a much-awaited 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 meeting but found 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”.

President Donald Trump said on Thursday he was close to making a deal but was not sure if he wants to do it, while news that Trump’s hardline trade adviser Peter Navarro, will attend the meeting, added to worries.

“Market wants to hear something good coming out of the meeting and anything short of that is going to be viewed negatively,” said J.J. Kinahan, chief market strategist at TD Ameritrade in Chicago.

Beijing hopes to persuade Trump to abandon plans to hike tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese goods to 25 percent in January from 10 percent.

“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 nearly 4 percent this week, setting it on course to post its biggest percentage gain in nine months.

At 11:21 a.m. EDT the Dow Jones Industrial Average () was down

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