US STOCKS-Wall St set to open flat in run-up to big earnings

* BlackRock falls after quarterly results miss estimates

* Netflix to report results after the bell

* Futures up: Dow 14 pts, S&P 1.25 pts, Nasdaq 7.25 pts
(Adds details, comment, updates prices)

By Tanya Agrawal

July 17 (Reuters) – U.S. stocks looked set to open little
changed on Monday as investors treaded water ahead of a busy
earnings week from big U.S. companies.

Bank of America, Morgan Stanley, Goldman
Sachs, Microsoft, IBM and Johnson and
Johnson are scheduled to report results this week.

Netflix, which will report results after the market
close on Monday, rose 1 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 U.S. market isn’t cheap right now,” said Phil Guarco,
global investment specialist at J.P. Morgan Private Bank.

“Earnings are going to take an important role. We’re in a
situation where the corporate profits and the profits they are
going to deliver in the future will be of keen interest.”

Dow e-minis were up 14 points, or 0.06 percent, with
14,981 contracts changing hands at 8:30 a.m. ET (1230 GMT).

S&P 500 e-minis were up 1.25 points, or 0.05 percent,
with 107,776 contracts traded.

Nasdaq 100 e-minis were up 7.25 points, or 0.12
percent, on volume of 20,886 contracts.

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.

“Apart from earnings, the biggest driver has been the rate
hike trajectory. The central banks need to be more transparent
and continue to project that the unwinding of quantitative
easing will be done in an extremely gentle way,” said Guarco.

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.

Shares of BlackRock fell 2.6 percent after the
world’s biggest asset manager’s quarterly profit came in below
expectations.

Procter & Gamble edged up 0.7 percent after activist
investor Nelson Peltz’s Trian Fund Management said it is seeking
a board seat at the company.
(Reporting by Tanya Agrawal; Editing by Arun Koyyur)

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