Futures down with focus on tariff deadline

U.S. stock index futures slipped on Tuesday as investors stayed on the sidelines ahead of a looming U.S. tariff deadline on Chinese goods that could possibly derail any progress made in trade talks between the world’s top two economies.

Wall Street is focused on Dec. 15, when the next round of U.S. levies on Chinese imports such as mobile phones and toys is scheduled to take effect.

Hopes of a partial U.S.-China trade deal have helped the three major U.S. stock indexes scale record levels in the last month.

But conflicting headlines have led to uncertainty in the market, with investors worried about a “phase one” agreement getting potentially delayed as the two sides continue to wrangle over key details.

“Sentiment has been a shade weaker over the last 24 hours albeit on very little news to get excited about,” Unicredit (CRDI.US) analysts wrote in a note to clients.

“After so many turns in sentiment and indications, investors are waiting for a final decision.”

Market participants will also keep a close watch on the Federal Open Market Committee’s two-day policy meeting, which ends on Wednesday, for cues on its 2020 economic outlook.

Dow e-minis were down 105 points, or 0.38%. S&P 500 e-minis were down 10 points, or 0.32% and Nasdaq 100 e-minis were down 33.5 points, or 0.4%.

Among stocks, Netflix Inc (NFLX.US) fell 2.3% in premarket trading after Needham downgraded the streaming service’s shares to “underperform”.

Masco Corp (MAS.US) rose 1.2% after KeyBanc raised its rating on the home improvement and building product maker’s shares to “overweight”.

 Trader Milko Zashev

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