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Trade Talks Uncertainty May Weigh on US Stocks

By Investors Hub

The major U.S. index futures are pointing to a lower opening on Thursday, with stocks likely to see further downside after coming under pressure late in the previous session.

The downwardly momentum on Wall Street comes as traders are keeping a close eye on trade talks between the U.S. and China.

The U.S. delegation led by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is expected to raise concerns with Chinese Vice Premier Liu He about a number of China’s trade practices.

In a post to Twitter, President Donald Trump said, ?Our great financial team is in China trying to negotiate a level playing field on trade!?

?I look forward to being with President Xi in the not too distant future,? he added. ?We will always have a good (great) relationship!?

Stocks came under pressure in late-day trading on Wednesday following the Federal Reserve’s announcement of its latest monetary policy decision. The major averages pulled back firmly into negative territory, with the Dow falling to its lowest closing level in a month.

The major averages ended the day just off their lows of the session. The Dow slumped 174.07 points or 0.7 percent to 23,924.98, the Nasdaq fell 29.81 points or 0.4 percent to 7,100.90 and the S&P 500 slid 19.13 points or 0.7 percent to 2,635.67.

The sharp decline seen late in the session came after the Federal Reserve announced its widely expected decision to maintain the target range for the federal funds rate at 1.5 to 1.75 percent.

Selling pressure may have been generated by the Fed’s comments about inflation, which signaled that an interest rate hike is likely in June.

Economists pointed to a comment from the Fed indicating that the annual rate of inflation is expected to run near its symmetric 2 percent objective over the medium term.

The Fed also said risks to the economic outlook appear roughly balanced and reiterated its expectation that economic conditions will evolve in a manner that will warrant further gradual increases in interest rates.

“Officials remain on course to raise rates again in June and we expect two further 25bp rate hikes in the second half of this year,” said Andrew Hunter, U.S. Economist at Capital Economics.

The release of the Fed statement overshadowed the release of a report from payroll processor ADP showing private sector employment increased by slightly more than anticipated in the month of April.

ADP said private sector employment surged up by 204,000 jobs in April after spiking by a revised 228,000 jobs in March.

Economists had expected private sector employment to shoot up by about 200,000 jobs compared to the jump of 241,000 jobs originally reported for the previous month.

“Despite rising trade tensions, more volatile financial markets, and poor weather, businesses are adding a robust more than 200,000 jobs per month,” said Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody’s Analytics.

He added, “At this pace, unemployment will soon be in the threes, which is rarified and risky territory, as the economy threatens to overheat.”

While the broader markets came under pressure, Apple (AAPL) held on to a strong gain after the tech giant reported fiscal second quarter results that beat analyst estimates on both the top and bottom lines.

Apple also said its board approved a new $100 billion share repurchase authorization and a 16 percent increase in its quarterly dividend.

Telecom stocks showed a significant move to the downside on the day, dragging the NYSE Arca Telecom Index down by 1.6 percent. With the drop, the index fell to its lowest closing level in six months.

Within the telecom sector, T-Mobile (TMUS) posted a steep loss despite the wireless carrier reporting better than expected first quarter results.

Considerable weakness was also visible among pharmaceutical stocks, as reflected by the 1.3 percent loss posted by the NYSE Arca Pharmaceutical Index. The index fell to a one-month closing low.

Biotechnology and transportation stocks also saw notable weakness, while some strength was visible among oil service and gold stocks.

Dipo Olowookere is a journalist based in Nigeria that has passion for reporting business news stories. At his leisure time, he watches football and supports 3SC of Ibadan.

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