Stock futures flat as trade worries prompt caution

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[September 06, 2018]   By Sruthi Shankar

(Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures were mostly flat on Thursday as concerns that the Trump administration would make good on its plan for fresh China tariffs after a public comment period ends, kept investors jittery.

Beijing has warned of retaliation if Washington implements any new tariff measures. Recent reports have said U.S. President Donald Trump is ready to move ahead with tariffs on $200 billion in Chinese imports.

Investors will also focus on the North American Free Trade Agreement negotiations, on which U.S. and Canadian officials spoke late into last night.

Trade concerns have been a drag on U.S. stocks since early this year as investors worry that a global trade war could dent business investment and growth.

At 7:18 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis were up 6 points, or 0.02 percent. S&P 500 e-minis were down 1.25 points, or 0.04 percent and Nasdaq 100 e-minis were down 8 points, or 0.11 percent.

The muted move in equity futures follows a stormy session for technology stocks on Wednesday, when the Nasdaq Composite index dropped over 1 percent on worries over stricter regulation on companies such as Twitter, Facebook and Alphabet.

Shares of these companies were flat in premarket trading.

Netflix rose 1.6 percent after RBC raised price target on the stock and a survey by the brokerage showed higher penetration levels in the United States and United Kingdom.

Chevron and ConocoPhillips were down about 0.9 percent after BofA Merrill downgraded the oil companies to "neutral" from "buy".
 

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Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., August 31, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

Navistar International rose 3.7 percent in light trading after the truck and engine maker reported a better-than-expected quarterly profit.

A clutch of economic data is also scheduled to release. At 8:30 a.m. ET, the ADP National Employment Report is expected to show that private employers hired 190,000 workers in August, lower than its previous reading of 219,000 in July.

That comes ahead of the more comprehensive non-farm payrolls report on Friday.

Numbers for weekly initial jobless claims, new orders for U.S.-made goods and Institute for Supply Management's non-manufacturing activity index are also slated to be released.

Among influential speakers, New York Federal Reserve President John C. Williams will participate in a fireside chat at 10:00 a.m. ET focused on the regional and national economy and the New York Fed's outreach efforts.

(Reporting by Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta)

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