Futures slip as investors eye crucial trade talks

May 8, 2019

By Amy Caren Daniel

(Reuters) – U.S. stock index futures fell on Wednesday, ahead of a crucial round of trade negotiations between the United States and China this week.

Months of talks between the two sides were upended after U.S. President Donald Trump threatened to raise tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods to 25% from 10% on Friday, retaliating against last-minute reversals by China.

China had deleted its commitments to change laws to resolve core complaints that caused the United States to launch a trade war, sources told Reuters.

In a last-ditch bid, Chinese Vice Premier Liu He is due to visit Washington on Thursday and Friday for trade talks.

The spike in tensions between the world’s largest economies has renewed fears of a global economic slowdown and forced investors to seek low-risk assets such as government bonds and the Japanese yen.

The main indexes have posted two consecutive sessions of declines this week and the losses have put the benchmark S&P 500 more than 2% away from its record high of 2,954.13 hit last week.

Adding to the jitters was Chinese trade data that showed solid imports but an unexpected fall in April exports, painting a mixed picture of the economy.

Chipmakers, which get a large chunk of their revenue from China, slipped in premarket trading. Shares of Nvidia Corp, Micron Technology Inc and Advanced Micro Devices Inc were down about 1%.

The broader Philadelphia chip index has declined 4% so far this week, and is on pace to post its biggest percentage weekly loss since Dec. 21.

At 6:48 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis were down 83 points, or 0.32%. S&P 500 e-minis were down 10.75 points, or 0.37% and Nasdaq 100 e-minis were down 35 points, or 0.46%.

With earnings entering the final stretch, first-quarter profits are now expected to rise 1.2%, a sharp improvement from the 2.3% decline expected at the start of the season.

Of the 414 S&P companies that have reported so far, about 75% have surpassed profit estimates, according to Refinitiv data.

Electronic Arts Inc jumped 7.3% after the videogame maker posted better-than-expected quarterly revenue, riding on the popularity of its battle royale game, “Apex Legends”.

Qorvo Inc’s shares gained 4.7% after the radio frequency chipmaker’s quarterly results beat estimates.

TripAdvisor Inc tumbled 7.2% after the online travel company’s quarterly revenue missed analysts’ estimates.

(Reporting by Amy Caren Daniel in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila)

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