August 3, 2018 / 1:16 PM / 8 months ago

US STOCKS-Wall St set to open flat as tepid jobs data, trade worries weigh

* China plans import tax on about $60 bln of U.S. imports

* Nonfarm payrolls increase 157,000 in July vs est 190,000

* Futures: Dow off 11 pts, S&P up 1.25 pts, Nasdaq up 6 pts (Adds comment, details; updates prices)

By Amy Caren Daniel

Aug 3 (Reuters) - U.S. stock futures gave up early gains and pointed to a flat opening for Wall Street on Friday, after data showed job growth slowed in July and China proposed new tariffs on $60 billion worth of U.S. goods, escalating a trade dispute between the world’s two largest economies.

China’s Commerce Ministry said the new measures are rational and restrained and that the timing of its implementation will depend on the actions of the United States.

The markets got little impetus to move higher after the U.S. jobs growth slowed in July likely due to companies’ struggles to find qualified workers.

Nonfarm payrolls increased by 157,000 jobs last month, the Labor Department said on Friday. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast nonfarm payrolls increasing by 190,000 jobs.

“The trade war fears are probably going to overshadow the jobs report,” Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at Spartan Capital Securities in New York said.

“The jobs report doesn’t change the strength of the job market, it’s just disappointing this time but it could be due to seasonal factors and some companies holding back on hiring.”

The unemployment rate fell one-tenth of a percentage point to 3.9 percent in July and the average hourly earnings increased 0.3 percent, in July after gaining 0.1 percent in June.

China’s announcement came after President Donald Trump proposed 25 percent tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese imports, up from a previously proposed 10 percent duty this week and demanded that Beijing make a host of concessions to avoid the new duties.

At 9:04 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis were down 11 points, or 0.04 percent. S&P 500 e-minis were up 1.25 points, or 0.04 percent and Nasdaq 100 e-minis were up 6 points, or 0.08 percent.

Shares of trade-sensitive stocks such as Boeing and Caterpillar dropped 0.6 percent and 0.3 percent in premarket trading.

Apple, which was down marginally, became the first $1 trillion publicly listed U.S. company and lifted the Nasdaq and the S&P 500 on Thursday.

Other members of the so-called FAANG group were higher. Facebook,, Google’s parent Alphabet and Netflix were trading up between 0.2 percent and 0.7 percent.

Earnings till date have been robust. Of the 380 companies, part of the S&P 500, that have reported earnings, 79.7 percent have topped analysts’ expectations, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Kraft Heinz jumped 3.3 percent after it topped quarterly profit and revenue estimates as the velveeta cheese maker raised prices of its products.

Dish jumped 5.8 percent after the satellite TV services provider reported a better-than-expected quarterly profit.

Shares of Symantec declined 13.2 percent after the antivirus software maker lowered its yearly revenue forecast. (Reporting by Amy Caren Daniel in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta)

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