(Reuters) – Wall Street was set for a lower opening on Friday, as a lack of progress on the U.S.-China trade talks ahead of a looming deadline added to investor nerves over slowing global growth.

FILE PHOTO – Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., February 1, 2019. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

Another round of talks is set for next week in Beijing, but President Donald Trump on Thursday fanned worries when he said he did not plan to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping before the March 1 deadline set for reaching a trade pact.

If the two countries fail to reach an agreement by then, additional U.S. tariffs on Chinese imports will come into force.

“Investors are experiencing another hiccup in the trade talks and with the March deadline approaching fast, they are being a tad cautious,” said Andre Bakhos, managing director at New Vines Capital LLC in Bernardsville, New Jersey.

The trade tensions and the latest signs of slowing growth around the world sent Wall Street’s main indexes sharply lower on Thursday, pulling them down from the two-month highs they hit earlier this week.

Trade bellwethers Caterpillar Inc and Boeing Co fell about 0.8 percent each in premarket trading, while chip stocks, which rely on China for a large chunk of their revenue, also slipped.

Advanced Micro Devices Inc, Micron Technology Inc and Intel Corp slipped between 0.7 percent and 2.5 percent.

Adding to chipmakers’ woes was Qorvo Inc, which fell 5.5 percent after the Apple Inc supplier forecast quarterly results below Wall Street estimates on weakness in smartphone markets.

The heavy-weight FAANG group – Facebook Inc, Amazon.com Inc, Apple Inc, Netflix Inc and Alphabet Inc – shed between 0.7 percent and 1.6 percent.

“The market is reducing exposure in some of these big names for no other reason than to take some profits and remove some risk until we find a better scenario with tariffs,” Bakhos said.

At 8:30 a.m. ET, S&P 500 e-minis were down 0.45 percent. Dow e-minis were down 0.4 percent and Nasdaq 100 e-minis were down 0.71 percent.

Since mounting concerns over a global economic slowdown triggered a massive sell-off in December, U.S. stocks have recovered sharply this year, spurred by a dovish Federal Reserve, hopes of a U.S.-China trade deal and largely positive fourth-quarter earnings.

The earnings season has crossed its halfway mark, with 71 percent of the S&P 500 companies that have reported beating profit estimates, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

However, concerns remain about slowing earnings growth in the coming quarters. Growth forecast for the current-quarter has dropped to 0.1 percent from 5.3 percent at the start of the year.

Expedia Group Inc shares climbed 6.6 percent after the online travel booking company reported a better-than-expected quarterly profit.

Mattel Inc’s shares jumped 16.7 percent after the toymaker posted a surprise quarterly profit, while rival Hasbro Inc tumbled 6.5 percent after its quarterly revenue missed expectations.

Reporting by Medha Singh and Amy Caren Daniel in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila


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