Stocks future subdued due to lack of fresh catalysts

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[March 06, 2019]    By Medha Singh

(Reuters) - U.S. stock futures were subdued on Wednesday in the absence of fresh developments on trade, with investors taking a step back after a strong run in equities since the start of the year.

 

Hopes that the United States and China will end their bitter trade row and a dovish stance on future interest rate hikes by the Federal Reserve has propelled the S&P 500 11 percent higher this year.

But the benchmark index has been struggling to go past the 2,800-point mark, a key resistance level, closing lower in five of the past six sessions.

"After the trade euphoria that kick-started the week, markets have quickly become stuck in a soggy patch with no real catalysts to push them one way or the other with any conviction," Deutsche Bank strategist Jim Reid wrote in a note to clients.

A report that the United States and China would arrive at a trade agreement as early as month-end kicked off the week on a positive note, but the optimism-driven rally has since fizzled out.

At 7:10 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis were down 38 points, or 0.15 percent. S&P 500 e-minis were down 4 points, or 0.14 percent and Nasdaq 100 e-minis were down 8.5 points, or 0.12 percent.

General Electric Co shares fell 1.8 percent in premarket trade, extending losses from a day earlier, after the conglomerate warned of a negative net cash flow from its industrial businesses this year.

Among other early movers, TripAdvisor Inc slipped 3.7 percent after a top analyst downgraded shares of the online travel company, citing a weak start to 2019.

Tesla Inc rose 0.7 percent after a Shanghai city government official said the electric carmaker's upcoming vehicle assembly facility in Shanghai is expected to be completed in May.

In economic news, the Commerce Department's report is expected to show trade deficit widened to $57.3 billion in December from $49.3 billion in November. The data is due at 8:30 a.m. ET.

The Federal Reserve's Beige Book, a compendium of anecdotes on the health of the economy drawn from the central bank's sources across the nation, is expected at 2 p.m. ET (1800 GMT).

(Reporting by Medha Singh and Amy Caren Daniel in Bengaluru; Editing by Arun Koyyur)

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