Stock futures snap four-day rally as trade talks, retailers disappoint

(Reuters) – U.S. stock index futures dipped on Thursday, after a solid four-day rally, as lack of details on U.S.-China trade talks gave investors pause, while retailers came under pressure after a couple of disappointing holiday-season reports. Beijing said the talks with Washington were extensive and helped establish a foundation for the resolution, but gave no details at end of their three-day meeting aimed at resolving the tariff dispute that has battered financial markets. Oil prices also edged lower on lack of any clear resolution in the talks, while weak factory-gate inflation data from China and worse-than-expected industrial figures in France rekindled worries about global growth. Shares of Kohl’s Corp (KSS.N) fell 5.2 percent, while those of Target Corp (TGT.N) dropped 1.5 percent in premarket trading after the U.S. retailers reported comparable sales for November and December. Peers Macy’s Inc (M.N) retreated 1.7 percent and Nordstrom Inc (JWN.N) declined 2 percent, while Walmart Inc (WMT.N) was off 0.4 percent. Technology stocks that had led the recent surge were also lower. Apple Inc (AAPL.O) and Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O) shed 0.7 percent, while Amazon.com Inc (AMZN.O) declined 1.1 percent. At 7:50 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis 1YMc1 were down 90 points, or 0.38 percent. S&P 500 e-minis ESc1 were down 13.25 points, or 0.51 percent and Nasdaq 100 e-minis NQc1 were down 43.75 points, or 0.66 percent. The retreat came after the S&P 500’s .SPX four-day rally, its longest in nearly four months, took the benchmark index more than 10 percent above the 20-month lows hit around Christmas. Those gains were on hopes of a trade deal, strong U.S. jobs data and recent indications that the U.S. Federal Reserve is in no rush to raise interest rates. Minutes from the Fed’s most recent meeting, released on Wednesday, showed policymakers want to be patient. Investors will tune into Fed Chair Jerome Powell’s speech before the Economic Club of Washington to see if the same tone continues. Among the bright spots, Ford (F.N) rose 0.5 percent after announcing thousands of job cuts, plans to exit unprofitable markets and discontinue loss-making vehicle lines as part of a turnaround effort in Europe. One retailer trading higher was Bed Bath & Beyond Inc (BBBY.O), which jumped 14.6 percent after the home furnishing company reported a better-than-expected quarterly profit and gave upbeat earnings forecast.

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