August 23, 2018 / 12:01 PM / a month ago

US STOCKS-Futures flat as U.S.-China tariffs kick in

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* Futures: Dow and S&P flat, Nasdaq dips 0.1 pct

By Shreyashi Sanyal

Aug 23 (Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures were little changed on Thursday as the United States and China slapped 25 percent tariffs on $16 billion worth of each other’s goods, despite ongoing trade talks.

The world’s two largest economies have now slapped tit-for-tat tariffs on a combined $100 billion of products since early July, with more in the pipeline, adding to risks to global economic growth.

The impact of trade disputes on businesses and households was examined by U.S. central bankers, who also discussed raising interest rates soon to counter excessive economic strength, minutes of the Federal Reserve’s last policy meeting showed on Wednesday.

With a rate hike widely expected in September, the benchmark S&P 500 index ended the day little changed as it marked its longest bull-market run.

The Fed’s annual economic symposium kicks off in Jackson Hole, Wyoming on Thursday, with Fed Chair Jerome Powell and other central bankers set to discuss the root causes of stubbornly low inflation, slow wage growth and tepid productivity gains.

Powell’s speech on Friday, his first as Fed chairman, will be closely watched for clues on future rate hikes.

At 7:26 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis were down 6 points, or 0.02 percent. S&P 500 e-minis were down 1 points, or 0.03 percent and Nasdaq 100 e-minis were down 7.75 points, or 0.1 percent.

Shares of Alibaba climbed 2.9 percent in premarket trading after the online retailer topped first-quarter revenue estimates, driven by growth in its core e-commerce business. Rival JD.com rose 1.1 percent.

U.S. retailers continued to mostly report upbeat results.

Williams-Sonoma jumped 8 percent after the Pottery Barn owner posted strong quarterly sales, while Childrens Place rose 6 percent after it raised its full-year profit forecast.

However, Victoria’s Secret-owner L Brands dropped 4.4 percent after cutting its full-year profit expectations.

Hormel Foods fell 6.5 percent after the packaged food maker lowered its full-year sales outlook. The sector was hit by J.M. Smucker’s results on Tuesday.

A report on initial claims for state unemployment benefits for the week ended Aug. 18 is expected at 8:30 a.m. ET, while data on new home sales is due at 10 a.m. ET. (Reporting by Shreyashi Sanyal in Bengaluru)

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