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US STOCKS-Wall Street set to open lower as focus shifts to tariff deadline

By Shreyashi Sanyal

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

* Tariff deadline on Chinese imports looms

* Apple off as CS says China iPhone shipments fell in Nov

* Starbucks rises after JPM upgrade

* Futures down: Dow 0.11%, S&P 500 0.03%, Nasdaq 0.08% (Adds comments, updates throughout)

By Shreyashi Sanyal

Dec 12 (Reuters) - U.S. stock indexes were set to open modestly lower on Thursday, with investors staying on the sidelines ahead of the imposition of a fresh round of tariffs on Chinese goods.

U.S. President Donald Trump has just days to decide whether to go ahead with tariffs on nearly $160 billion in Chinese consumer goods just weeks before Christmas, a move that could be unwelcome in both the United States and China.

"Because the administration is prone to putting out surprise statements on trade, investors are afraid to get too far in front on the likelihood of any bad news," said Rick Meckler, partner at Cherry Lane Investments in New Vernon, New Jersey.

"There was news earlier in the week that the tariffs won't go into effect but unless we see some material developments on that, we are likely to hold at this range."

Apple Inc fell 1.1% in premarket trading after Credit Suisse said China iPhone shipments dropped in November.

Stock index futures edged higher initially, a day after the Federal Reserve held interest rates steady and signaled borrowing costs will not change anytime soon.

Wall Street's main indexes have touched record highs recently, supported by three rate cuts this year, a calmer tone on trade and some relief in corporate earnings. The S&P 500 index is now up 25% so far this year.

Data on Thursday showed the number of Americans filing applications for unemployment benefits jumped to more than a two-year high last week, while another report showed U.S. producer prices were unexpectedly unchanged in November.

At 8:55 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis were down 31 points, or 0.11%. S&P 500 e-minis were down 1 points, or 0.03% and Nasdaq 100 e-minis were down 7 points, or 0.08%.

Investors across the globe braced for a Brexit-defining election in Britain, with exit polls set to begin at 5 p.m. ET (2200 GMT).

Starbucks Corp rose 1.7% in after J.P.Morgan raised its rating on the coffee chain to "overweight".

General Electric climbed 3.2% after UBS upgraded the industrial conglomerate's shares to "buy".

Shares of Delta Air Lines Inc rose 2% as the carrier sees another annual rise in profit and revenue in 2020. (Reporting by Shreyashi Sanyal in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D'Silva)