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US STOCKS-Wall Street set for higher open after upbeat retail sales data

(For a live blog on the U.S. stock market, click LIVE/ ortype LIVE/ in a news window.)

* U.S. retail sales post biggest gain in 1-1/2 years inMarch

* Honeywell gains after quarterly profit beat

* Futures up: Dow 0.10%, S&P 0.14%, Nasdaq 0.06% (Changes comment, updates prices)

By Amy Caren Daniel

April 18 (Reuters) - Wall Street was set to open slightlyhigher on Thursday, ahead of a long Easter weekend, supported byrobust retail sales data, with investors eying the release of along-awaited Mueller report.

U.S. retail sales increased by the most in 1-1/2 years inMarch, the latest indication that economic growth picked up inthe first quarter after a false start.

Adding to sentiment, a Labor Department showed the number ofAmericans filing applications for unemployment benefits fell tomore than a 49-1/2-year low last week.

"Retail sales really came back roaring. It looks like theconsumer made up for the government shutdown and there were goodnumbers in jobless claims," said Peter Cardillo, chief marketeconomist at Spartan Capital Securities in New York.

The robust data helped blunt weak manufacturing data out ofFrance and Germany that showed activity in the euro zone's twobiggest economies continued to contract.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report on Russia's role inthe 2016 U.S. election will provide the first public look at thefindings of an inquiry that has cast a shadow over DonaldTrump's presidency.

Attorney General William Barr will hold a news conference at9:30 a.m. ET to discuss the report, ahead of its release.

"I think the markets are going to focus on how damaging theMueller report is going to be for Trump's re-election chances,"said Rick Meckler, partner at Cherry Lane Investments, in NewVernon, New Jersey.

"But as with everything with Trump, it probably won't have abig impact long term."

At 8:46 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis 1YMc1 were up 26 points, or0.1%. S&P 500 e-minis ESc1 were up 4 points, or 0.14% andNasdaq 100 e-minis NQc1 were up 4.75 points, or 0.06%.

On trade, Washington and Beijing set a tentative timelinefor a fresh round of face-to-face meetings ahead of a possiblesigning ceremony in late May or early June, according to a WallStreet Journal report.

Of the 54 S&P 500 companies that have posted earnings sofar, 79.6% have beaten consensus, according to Refinitiv data.

Analysts now expect first-quarter profits for S&P 500companies to have dropped 1.8% year-on-year, an improvement fromrecent estimates, but would still be the first earnings declinesince 2016.

Among stocks, Honeywell International Inc shares HON.N rose 1% in premarket trading after its quarterly profit beatestimates and the industrial conglomerate raised its annualforecast.

American Express CoAXP.N fell 1% after credit-cardissuer's quarterly revenue missed estimates.

Investors are also awaiting the hotly-anticipated debut ofonline scrapbook company Pinterest IncPINS.N , the firsthigh-profile initial public offering of a "tech unicorn" afterLyft Inc's LYFT.O struggles.

(Reporting by Amy Caren Daniel and Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru;Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila) ((Amy.CarenDaniel@thomsonreuters.com ; within U.S.+1-646-223-8780; outside U.S. +91 80 6749 9250 ; ReutersMessaging: Amy.CarenDaniel.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net;))


The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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