The Dow Jones index was virtually unchanged (-1.04 points) at 26,347.05 points and Standard & Poor's 500, wider, rose 0.03% to 2920,18 points after a few minutes of trading.
The Nasdaq Composite yielded 0.03% to 7,901.26 points at the opening.
The top US and Chinese officials responsible for the trade war are in Washington for the first time since late July, in principle for two days of talks. On Wednesday, Donald Trump spoke of "great chances" to conclude an agreement but a Chinese official, under the seal of anonymity, said that reaching a compromise would be "not an easy task".
The latest illustration of the persistent tension between the two sides is that China's Foreign Ministry has called on the US to stop "unreasonable pressure" on Chinese companies, including giant telecom network equipment giant Huawei.
China remains under threat of a 30% increase in US tariffs on some 250 billion products imported into the United States as of October 15.
Announcements, an hour before the opening, an unexpected drop in jobless claims in the US last week and a stable consumer price index in September had little effect on the trend.
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Patrick Vignal, edited by Bertrand Boucey