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Wall St treads water on upbeat US-China trade sentiment

US stocks were flat to modestly higher at the open on Tuesday amid more positive signs that trade tensions between Washington and Beijing could be easing.

Aided by solid corporate earnings, investors have been cheered by a stretch with no major upsets in trade talks, as positive comments have dribbled out.

The modest uptick push past records set at the close was helped by reports in the Wall Street Journal and Financial Times saying US officials are considering rolling back some of the tariffs President Donald Trump imposed on China in order to seal a "phase one" deal with Beijing.

About 20 minutes into the day's session, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 0.1 percent to 27,501.01.

The broad-based S&P 500 was essentially flat at 3,078.45, as was the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index which stood at 8,439.50.

"The stock market seems to be in a wash-rinse-repeat reaction mode, as it is indicated to open higher on the same spin cycle that has driven the Dow, Nasdaq, and S&P 500 to record-high levels," analyst Patrick J. O'Hare said in a commentary.

Government data showing the US trade deficit dropped as expected in September did not seem to move markets. The trade gap fell 4.7 percent to $52.5 billion, following a pre-tariff rise in August.

Boeing shares jumped 1.3 percent after the company's new chairman, David Calhoun, gave a resounding vote of confidence to CEO Dennis Muilenburg, saying he "has done everything right" in the wake of two deadly crashes that killed 346 people and grounded the manufacturer's most popular aircraft.