July 6 (Reuters) – U.S. stock index futures dipped on Friday after the United States and China slapped tit-for-tat duties on $34 billion worth of each other’s imports, triggering what Beijing called the “largest-scale trade war.”
While U.S. goods to China including autos and agricultural products would face 25 percent tariffs, Washington imposed duties on Chinese products such as motor vehicles, computer disk drives, parts of pumps, valves and printers.
However, U.S. equities looked set for a more cautious start as investors are looking at monthly U.S. jobs data after the Federal Reserve minutes released overnight showed policymakers concerned about global trade tensions hurting the economy that by most measures looked strong.
“While this is mostly discounted, the fact is that the uncertainties of how long this trade war will last is going to supersede any good macro news,” said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at Spartan Capital Securities in New York.
“We could be facing a fear-driven market, which means stocks will likely be capped by the fear of trade war. Unless we get a strong dose of wage increases, I don’t see a major selloff, I see a market that is capped by fear.”
U.S. employers likely maintained a brisk pace of hiring in June, while increasing wages for workers. The Labor Department report, due at 8:30 a.m. ET, is expected to show nonfarm payrolls increased by 195,000 jobs last month, while average hourly earnings are expected to rise 0.3 percent.
At 8:08 a.m. EDT, Dow e-minis were down 73 points, or 0.3 percent, with 40,469 contracts changing hands.
S&P 500 e-minis were down 5.25 points, or 0.19 percent, with 157,269 contracts traded. Nasdaq 100 e-minis were down 11.75 points, or 0.16 percent, on volume of 56,931 contracts.
The U.S. market’s main measure of short-term volatility, the CBOE Volatility index, inched up 0.14 points.
Twenty-five of the 30 components of the blue-chip Dow Jones Industrial Average were trading premarket. Most of them were lower, between 0.04 percent and 1.4 percent, although trading volumes were very light.
Shares of a handful of chipmakers, which rely on China for a substantial chunk of revenue, also dipped, again in thin volumes. Large cap Chinese companies listed on U.S. bourses dipped slightly, with Alibaba and Baidu down 0.3 percent.
Among other stocks, Biogen jumped 12.7 percent after Japanese drugmaker Eisai Co and the company said the final analysis of a mid-stage trial of their Alzheimer’s drug showed positive results.