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US STOCKS-Wall St set to open flat; focus on N.Korea, White House
August 21, 2017 / 1:00 PM / a month ago

US STOCKS-Wall St set to open flat; focus on N.Korea, White House

* Nike lower after Jefferies downgrade

* Herbalife jumps as board announces stock buyback

* Futures down: Dow 7 pts, S&P 0.25 pts, Nasdaq 0.25 pts (Adds details, comments, updates price)

By Sruthi Shankar

Aug 21 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks looked set to open little changed on Monday, with investors keeping an eye on the White House as well as the simmering tensions between the United States and North Korea.

The two events have mostly steered investor sentiments in the past two weeks.

Last week, President Donald Trump fired chief strategist Steve Bannon, disbanded some business councils and there was also speculation about the possible departure of National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn.

With the political turmoil roiling the White House, investors again raised concerns about the Trump administration’s ability to implement its pro-growth agenda.

Wall Street’s three major indexes fell more than 1 percent on Thursday and also ended lower on Friday, marking the first time since Trump’s election victory on Nov. 8 that stocks had not risen the day after a more-than-1-percent drop.

The benchmark S&P 500 index still is up 13.4 percent since the election, but has fallen 2.1 percent in the last two weeks. That’s the most since the two weeks before the election.

Part of the decline was due to escalating tensions between the United States and North Korea. While that has eased slightly in the past few days, South Korean and U.S. forces began computer-simulated military exercises on Monday.

“Investors are taking a step back and evaluating the move lower”, said Andre Bakhos, managing director at Janlyn Capital in Bernardsville, New Jersey

“They are not sure if it’s a beginning of the end of the bull run we’ve had or if it’s a buying opportunity”, Bakhos said.

At 8:31 a.m. ET (1231 GMT), Dow e-minis were down 7 points, or 0.03 percent, with 25,917 contracts changing hands.

S&P 500 e-minis were down 0.25 points, or 0.01 percent, with 201,167 contracts traded.

Nasdaq 100 e-minis were down 0.25 points, or 0 percent, on volume of 34,048 contracts.

Among stock, Nike’s shares were down 1.35 percent at $54.21 in premarket trading after Jefferies downgraded the stock to “hold” from “buy” and also cut its price target.

Herbalife was up 8.2 percent at $67 after the nutritional supplement maker said it would buy back $600 million of shares after ending talks to be taken private.

NYSE-listed shares of Fiat Chrysler were up 4.5 percent at $13.13 after China’s Great Wall Motor said it was interested in bidding for the carmaker. (Reporting by Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru; Editing by Savio D‘Souza)

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