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U.S. stock futures little changed ahead of big earnings

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(Reuters) – U.S. stock index futures were little changed on Monday as investors treaded water ahead of a busy earnings week from big U.S. companies.

Bank of America (BAC.N), Morgan Stanley (MS.N), Goldman Sachs (GS.N), Microsoft (MSFT.O), IBM (IBM.N) and Johnson and Johnson (JNJ.N) are scheduled to report results this week.

Netflix (NFLX.O), which is scheduled to report results after the market close on Monday, rose 0.9 percent in premarket trading.

Analysts estimate second-quarter earnings for the S&P 500 companies rose 8.1 percent from a year earlier. First-quarter earnings posted their best performance since 2011, according to Thomson Reuters data.

Earnings will be closely watched to see if high valuations are justified in the face of tepid inflation and a recent patch of mixed economic data.

The S&P 500 has been trading at about 18 times earnings estimates for the next 12 months, compared with the long-term average of 15 times.

The Dow and the S&P hit record highs on Friday after weak economic data dulled prospects of more interest rate hikes this year.

Last week, investor sentiment got a boost after Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen said future rate hikes could be gradual in the face of persistently low inflation. The Fed will meet next on July 25-26.

Oil rose above $49 a barrel as a slowdown in the growth of rigs drilling in the United States eased concern that surging shale supplies will undermine OPEC-led cuts. Tradebuddy.onlineO/R]

World shares continued to hover near record highs after data showed China’s economy grew at a faster-than-forecast 6.9 percent year-on-year in the second quarter.

Tradebuddy.onlines of BlackRock (BLK.N) slipped 0.3 percent after the world’s biggest asset manager’s quarterly profit came in below expectations.

Procter & Gamble (PG.N) fell 0.23 percent after activist investor Nelson Peltz’s Trian Fund Management said it is seeking a board seat at the company.

Futures snapshot at 6:57 a.m. ET:

Dow e-minis 1YMc1 were up 15 points, or 0.07 percent, with 12,879 contracts changing hands.

S&P 500 e-minis ESc1 were up 1.5 points, or 0.06 percent, with 90,069 contracts traded.

Nasdaq 100 e-minis NQc1 were up 9.5 points, or 0.16 percent, on volume of 17,454 contracts.

Reporting by Tanya Agrawal

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U.S. commission recommends tariffs to curb Samsung, LG washer imports

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WASHINGTON/SEOUL (Reuters) – The U.S. International Trade Commission on Tuesday recommended tariffs to keep Samsung and LG from flooding the U.S. market with inexpensive washers, a step that would protect American appliance giant Whirlpool Corp.

The logo of Samsung Electronics is seen in front of its office building in Seoul, South Korea, August 25, 2017. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji

The ITC said a graduated tariff rate should be placed on imports of large residential washing machines above a 1.2 million-unit threshold over the next three years, starting at 50 percent the first year and sliding to 40 percent by the third.

The panel was split on whether tariffs should be imposed if fewer than 1.2 million units were imported in any given year.

Whirlpool shares moved higher on news of the recommendation, ending up 2.2 percent.

U.S. President Donald Trump is expected to make a decision on the recommendation by early next year.

The ITC found last month that surging imports harmed domestic producers, although it did not find that washers made specifically in South Korea, already subject to anti-dumping duties, were responsible.

Samsung Electronics and LG Electronics said any tariff would raise prices, limit consumer choices and hurt job creation.

The South Korean firms plan to open home appliance factories in the United States in the next few years, which could cushion the blow from possible import tariffs.

“Import restrictions would jeopardize LG’s U.S. jobs by hindering the ramp-up of the Tennessee factory,” LG said.

The company is projected to sell about 1.2 million washing machines in the United States this year, an LG spokesman said. He added that combined U.S. sales by LG and Samsung would reach about 2.5 million, well above the recommended quota.

A Samsung spokesman said its U.S. sales number was not immediately available.

Samsung said any tariffs “would harm the workers in our South Carolina factory, or limit them from delivering innovative washing machines, made by Americans for Americans”.

Lawmakers from South Carolina, where Samsung is building a factory, had written to the ITC to ask that any remedies not be too severe.

Samsung Electronics shares ended up 1.2 percent, while LG Electronics rose 3.2 percent during Asian trading hours on Wednesday, in a wider market that gained 0.4 percent.

South Korea’s trade ministry, after meeting officials from Samsung and LG later on Wednesday, said the government plans to consider whether or not to complain to the World Trade Organization depending on Trump’s final decision on the tariffs.

A 20 percent tariff, if applied to imports below the 1.2 million quota, will “deal a big blow to South Korean firms’ exports to the United States,” the ministry said in a statement.

Whirlpool brought the case under Section 201 of the U.S. Trade Act of 1974 seeking “global safeguard” restrictions to protect its market. It is one of two major recent cases relying on Section 201, a statute that had not been invoked since 2002, when then-President George W. Bush imposed temporary tariffs on steel imports.

Additional reporting by David Lawder in WASHINGTON, Dahee Kim IN SEOUL; editing by Cynthia Osterman, Jonathan Oatis and Himani Sarkar

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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Research posted on Apple’s self-driving cars – Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)

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Research by Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) computer scientists on how self-driving cars can better spot objects while using fewer sensors has been posted online, in what appears to be the company’s first publicly disclosed paper on autonomous vehicles.

The approach called “VoxelNet” is significant because Apple’s corporate secrecy around future products has been seen as a drawback among AI and machine learning researchers.

Read the submission here

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