* Oil prices hit fresh post 2009 lows, before paring some losses
* Data shows China’s imports fell for 13th consecutive month
* Outerwall slumps after cutting full-year forecast
* Dow down 0.51 pct, S&P down 0.36 pct, Nasdaq up 0.02 pct (Adds details, changes comment, updates shares)
By Tanya Agrawal
Dec 8 (Reuters) - Wall Street slipped on Tuesday as oil prices steadied but remained close to their 7-year low and weak Chinese trade data reignited fears of a global economic slowdown.
U.S. crude fell below $37 per barrel and Brent below $40 for the first time since early 2009, before paring some of those losses.
Oil major Exxon was down about 1 percent, while miner Freeport McMoRan fell 3.5 percent. Exxon was the biggest drag on the S&P.
“We do think oil is putting in a bottom here and view this as a good buying opportunity,” said Gary Bradshaw, portfolio manager of Hodges Capital Management in Dallas, Texas.
Eight of the 10 major S&P 500 sectors were lower, with the industrials’ 1.07 percent fall leading the decliners.
At 11:18 a.m. ET (1518 GMT) the Dow Jones industrial average was down 91.06 points, or 0.51 percent, at 17,639.45, the S&P 500 was down 7.44 points, or 0.36 percent, at 2,069.63 and the Nasdaq Composite was up 0.02 points, or 0 percent, at 5,101.83.
Data showed China’s imports fell for the 13th consecutive month, with an 8.7 percent decline in November compared with a year earlier.
While the fall in oil prices and weak Chinese data unsettled investors, most analysts think the U.S. Federal Reserve will go ahead with a rate hike at its meeting on Dec. 15-16.
“The market is expecting a rate hike and the Fed will reintroduce uncertainties and lose credibility if they fail to raise rates,” said Ryan Larson, head of U.S. equity trading at RBC Global Asset Management in Chicago.
The Fed had cited macro uncertainty in its decision to hold rates steady at its September meeting. While investors have been worried about a slowdown in China and the impact it would have on the global demand, steps taken by the Chinese government had assuaged some of those fears.
Federal funds futures contracts imply an 80 percent chance that the Fed will end seven years of near-zero interest rates.
Fairchild Semiconductor was up 5.7 percent at $20.65 after the chipmaker said it received an unsolicited proposal to buy the company for about $2.46 billion.
United Natural Foods slumped 17.5 percent to $36.31 after the natural and organic food distributor posted a lower-than-expected quarterly profit.
Outerwall fell 20.70 percent to $46.04 after the Redbox DVD rental kiosks owner cut its full-year forecast to below analysts’ expectation on Monday.
Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by 1,979 to 978. On the Nasdaq, 1,413 issues fell and 1,214 advanced.
The S&P 500 index showed 4 new 52-week highs and 31 new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 15 new highs and 145 new lows. (Reporting by Tanya Agrawal; Editing by Anil D‘Silva)