Futures muted with U.S.-China trade negotiations in focus

March 28, 2019

By Shreyashi Sanyal

(Reuters) – U.S. stock index futures treaded water on Thursday, as investors awaited more details on the progress in U.S.-China trade negotiations amid lingering fears of slowing economic growth.

A Reuters report said China has made unprecedented proposals on a range of issues including forced technology transfer, though sticking points still remained and there was no definite timetable for a deal.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said he and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer looked forward to “productive meetings” as they arrived in Beijing leading a delegation for trade talks.

Meanwhile, Wall Street continued to be in the grip of global growth worries in the face of weak economic data and the Federal Reserve’s decision last week to abandon projections for any interest rate hikes this year.

Wall Street’s main indexes came under pressure on Friday when the U.S. Treasury yield curve inverted for the first time since 2007. If it remains inverted for long, it could indicate that a recession is likely in one to two years. [US/]

Treasury prices continued its rally on Thursday, pushing the benchmark 10-year yields to fresh 15-month lows.

At 7:15 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis were up 4 points, or 0.02 percent. S&P 500 e-minis were down 0.25 points, or 0.01 percent and Nasdaq 100 e-minis were up 0.25 points, or 0 percent.

Credit rating agency S&P Global became the latest to cut its 2019 euro zone growth forecast to 1.1 percent from 1.6 percent.

Investors will look to gauge the pace of economic growth in the United States from the Commerce Department’s final estimate of fourth-quarter gross domestic product. The report is set to be released at 8:30 a.m. ET and is expected to show the economy grew at an annualized rate of 2.4 percent.

Energy stocks fell in premarket trading as crude prices dropped, extending losses into a second consecutive session, following a surprise rise in U.S. crude inventories.

Boeing Co edged up 0.2 percent, extending the previous day’s gains, after the planemaker unveiled software fixes to defend its 737 MAX airliners.

Nielsen Holdings Plc fell 9.9 percent in light volumes after a report that private equity firm Blackstone Group backed out of an auction to buy the ratings company.

Lululemon Athletica Inc rose 12.3 percent after company forecast full-year profit above analysts’ estimates.

(Reporting by Shreyashi Sanyal and Amy Caren Daniel in Bengaluru; Editing by Arun Koyyur)

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