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* Futures down: Dow 0.44 pct, S&P 0.24 pct, Nasdaq 0.23 pct
By Shreyashi Sanyal
Sept 11 (Reuters) – U.S. stock index futures were trading lower on Tuesday, as fears of tariffs on almost all Chinese imports by the United States haunted investors, amid worsening trade relations between the two countries.
President Donald Trump on Friday threatened duties on $267 billion of goods on top of planned tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese products. China has vowed to respond if the United States took any new steps on trade.
The fresh round of trade spat comes at a time when China has decided to approach the World Trade Organization next week for permission to slap sanctions on the United States, for Washington’s non-compliance with a ruling in a dispute over U.S. dumping duties.
“The futures are pointing to a weak opening as geopolitical, trade issues continue to weigh on the markets. Would expect another trying directionless market as investors stay cautious,” said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at Spartan Capital Securities in New York.
Shares of trade-sensitive Caterpillar slipped 0.7 percent in premarket trading. Boeing dropped 1 percent. The planemaker raised its estimate for purchase of new planes by China over the next two decades by 6.2 percent.
Shares of chipmakers, which rely on China for a major portion of their revenue, also fell. Intel, Micron and Nvidia were down between 0.3 percent and 0.9 percent.
U.S. stocks, however, started this week in a better mood, as the S&P 500 and Nasdaq rebounded on Monday to snap a four-day losing streak, although a drop in Apple kept gains in check.
At 7:31 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis were down 114 points, or 0.44 percent. S&P 500 e-minis were down 7 points, or 0.24 percent and Nasdaq 100 e-minis were down 17 points, or 0.23 percent.
Also in focus was Hurricane Florence, now a Category 4 storm that is expected to grow stronger before making landfall on Thursday, most likely in southeastern North Carolina near the South Carolina border.
Insurer Travelers dropped 0.7 percent, falling for the second day in a row, on the storm warning. But, home improvement chains Lowe’s Companies and Home Depot , whose shares hit record highs on Monday, were up roughly 1 percent each.
Nike rose 0.6 percent after brokerage Canaccord Genuity upgraded the world’s No.1 sportswear maker’s shares, citing that the company has regained its footing and is solidly marching back to top form.
Integrated Device Technology jumped 11.5 percent after Japan’s Renesas Electronics agreed to buy chipmaker in a $6.7 billion deal to deepen its push into semiconductors for self-driving cars. (Reporting by Shreyashi Sanyal in Bengaluru; Editing by Arun Koyyur)