* Micron gains on bullish brokerage comment
* Microchip provides upbeat sales outlook
* Apache shares jump on major oil discovery
* Futures: Dow, S&P off 0.05%, Nasdaq up 0.17% (For a live blog on the U.S. stock market, click or type LIVE/ in a news window)
By Sruthi Shankar and Susan Mathew
Jan 7 (Reuters) - The S&P 500 and the Dow were on track to open largely flat on Tuesday in the absence of fresh escalation in the standoff between the United States and Iran, while the Nasdaq was set to get a boost from positive corporate updates from chipmakers.
The killing of a top Iranian general last week by the United States jolted markets and sent investors scurrying for safe-haven assets. However, the three main Wall Street indexes rebounded on Monday as many reassessed the situation as having a limited impact on financial markets.
“People are nervous about a possible retaliation from Iran. But because nothing happened right away, it gives people a little bit of confidence to step back into the market,” said Robert Pavlik, chief investment strategist and senior portfolio manager at SlateStone Wealth LLC in New York.
Helping the tech-heavy Nasdaq futures outperform on Tuesday was Micron Technology Inc, which rose 3.4% after Cowen & Co upgraded the chipmaker to “outperform” on an earlier-than-expected recovery in the memory market.
The brokerage also raised its rating on hard-disk maker Western Digital Corp to “outperform”. Its shares rose 3.2%.
Another bright spot in the semiconductor space was Microchip Technology, which rose 3.7% after raising the mid-point of its sales forecast for the third quarter.
At 8:47 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis were down 17 points, or 0.06%. S&P 500 e-minis were down 1.75 points, or 0.05% and Nasdaq 100 e-minis were up 15.25 points, or 0.17%.
Investors will be closely tracking a slew of economic data later in the day, including U.S. factory goods orders for November and the Institute for Supply Management’s services sector activity index for December. After the index slowed to 53.9 points in November, economists expect it to stabilize at 54.5 points in the last month.
Market participants are also awaiting the fourth-quarter reporting season, which begins in earnest next week. Earnings for S&P 500 companies are expected to dip 0.5%, the second consecutive quarter of decline, according to Refinitiv IBES data.
Goldman Sachs Group Inc rose 0.7% after the Wall Street bank said it has overhauled its main business units ahead of its quarterly results next week. The bank would report its future earnings, starting with the latest December quarter, under the newly named units - investment banking, global markets, asset management and consumer & wealth management.
Shares in Apache Corp jumped 17.3% after it and France’s Total said they made a major oil discovery offshore Suriname with the closely watched Maka-Central 1 well.
Tesla Inc gained 1.5% after the company launched its Model Y electric sports utility vehicle program at its new Shanghai factory. (Reporting by Sruthi Shankar, Medha Singh and Susan Mathew in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila and Maju Samuel)