Stock futures drop as trade tensions escalate

(Reuters) – Wall Street was set to start the week lower on Monday, as a move to check Chinese investments in U.S. technology firms further raised tensions between the United States and its trading partners.

FILE PHOTO: Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., June 19, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

The U.S. Treasury Department was set to be drafting curbs that would block firms with at least 25 percent Chinese ownership from buying U.S. companies with “industrially significant technology,” a government official said on Sunday.

Chipmakers and U.S.-listed Chinese companies were among the most traded stocks in premarket trading on Monday. Advanced Micro Devices fell 0.6 percent and Alibaba dropped 1.7 percent.

The move marks another escalation of President Donald Trump’s trade conflict with China, which has sent ripples across financial markets and threatened to dent global growth.

Harley-Davidson dropped 1.7 percent after the motorcycle maker forecast additional costs due to European Union tariffs.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 2 percent last week, posting its worst weekly performance since late March, after Trump threatened to impose a 20 percent tariff on all European Union car imports. The EU — which has promised retaliatory measures on Harley-Davidson, bourbon and other products — vowed to respond.

“The catalyst for weakness is overnight reports pointing to White House plans to tighten restrictions on Chinese investments in the US and limiting tech exports to China. Moreover, EU rhetoric continues to be tough,” Peter Cecchini, chief market strategist at Cantor Fitzgerald in New York, wrote in a client note.

At 8:52 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis were down 166 points, or 0.67 percent. S&P 500 e-minis were down 13 points, or 0.47 percent and Nasdaq 100 e-minis were down 53.75 points, or 0.74 percent.

Brent crude prices, which provided support to the equity markets last week, fell more than 1.5 percent as investors prepared for an extra 1 million barrels per day in output to hit the markets after OPEC and its partners agreed to raise production.

A Commerce Department report, due at 10:00 a.m. ET, is expected to show new home sales rose 1.5 percent to a 667,000-unit rate in May.

Among early gainers was Campbell Soup, which jumped 5.5 percent after a New York Post report that Kraft Heinz was considering buying the company. Kraft Heinz rose 0.4 percent.

Education Realty Trust Inc rose 1.5 percent after the company said it would be acquired by an affiliate of Greystar Real Estate Partners for about $4.6 billion, including debt.

Reporting by Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta

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