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* Pinterest plummets after 2019 forecast disappoints
* Trade war will only make us stronger - Chinese media
* Luckin Coffee surges in market debut
* Indexes down: Dow up 0.05%, S&P off 0.10%, Nasdaq drops 0.41% (Changes comment, updates prices)
May 17 (Reuters) - The S&P 500 were trading flat but was off session lows on Friday as investors tracked trade headlines after China took a hard stance on its tariff war with the United States.
After falling as much as 0.76% earlier in the session, the S&P 500 erased some losses, with traders pointing to media reports that the United States was close to a deal to remove tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from Canada and Mexico.
However, all eyes were on the worsening rift in U.S.-China trade talks, which has taken a toll on global financial markets.
The ruling Communist Party's People's Daily wrote the trade war will only make China stronger and will never bring the country to its knees.
"Given the trend, people want to be optimistic and both sides still want to get a deal and eventually might even get it down, but the reality is that it is much more complicated than they anticipated," said Craig Birk, chief investment officer at Personal Capital.
Beijing's higher tariffs on $60 billion worth of U.S. products will take effect on June 1, which could prompt Washington to go ahead with tariffs on a further $300 billion worth of Chinese goods.
The two sides are expected to meet in China to resume talks soon.
The S&P 500 has gained in the past three days after a huge sell-off on Monday, as some upbeat earnings reports and positive economic data allayed worries about the U.S. economy taking a hit from the trade war.
However, uncertainty around trade led farm equipment maker Deere & Co to cut its full-year forecast, sending its shares down 5.4%.
The drop in shares of Deere as well as Caterpillar Inc and 3M Co pressured the tariff-sensitive industrial sector, which was trading 0.3% lower.
Technology companies, including Apple Inc and chipmakers, which rely on China for a large portion of their revenue were also hit by trade fears.
Tech stocks fell 0.3%, with Apple down 0.5% after Nomura Instinet cut its price target on the stock, citing headwinds from the tariff war.
Applied Materials Inc gained 4.7% after the chip gear maker's upbeat third-quarter profit eased concerns about waning chip demand.
At 11:52 a.m. ET the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 12.61 points, or 0.05%, at 25,875.29, the S&P 500 was down 2.93 points, or 0.10%, at 2,873.39 and the Nasdaq Composite was down 32.55 points, or 0.41%, at 7,865.50.
Under Armour Inc rose 6.6% after JP Morgan upgraded the sports wear maker to "overweight" from "neutral".
Online scrapbook company Pinterest Inc slumped 12.0% after the recent Wall Street debutant forecast 2019 revenue broadly in line with Wall Street targets.
Luckin Coffee Inc's shares, the Chinese challenger to Starbucks Corp, surged 35.8% in their market debut.
Declining issues outnumbered advancers for a 1.97-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and a 1.93-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.
The S&P index recorded 25 new 52-week highs and five new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 48 new highs and 76 new lows. (Reporting by Amy Caren Daniel, Sruthi Shankar and Shreyashi Sanyal in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta and Arun Koyyur)