August 3, 2018 / 2:16 PM / 2 months ago

US STOCKS-Wall Street flat as tepid jobs data, trade fears weigh

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

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

* Kraft Heinz gains on strong Q2 report

* Symantec falls on weak FY forecast

* Indexes: Dow up 0.19 pct, S&P up 0.09 pct, Nasdaq flat (Updates to open)

By Amy Caren Daniel

Aug 3 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks were flat on Friday, after gains in the consumer staples sector, boosted by Kraft Heinz’s strong earnings, were offset by data which showed job growth slowed in July and as China proposed new tariffs on $60 billion worth of U.S. goods.

China’s retaliatory tariffs on U.S. goods ranged from liquefied natural gas (LNG) to certain types of aircraft and came after President Donald Trump proposed 25 percent tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese imports.

The S&P consumer staples sector rose 0.8 percent and led the gains among major S&P sectors.

Kraft Heinz jumped 5.7 percent after it topped quarterly profit and revenue estimates as the velveeta cheese maker raised prices of its products.

The markets got little impetus to move higher after 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, after gaining 0.1 percent in June.

At 9:52 a.m. EDT the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 47.31 points, or 0.19 percent, at 25,373.47, the S&P 500 was up 2.61 points, or 0.09 percent, at 2,829.83 and the Nasdaq Composite was down 0.74 points, or 0.01 percent, at 7,801.95.

Only three of the 11 major S&P sectors were lower. The technology sector’s 0.13 percent drop was the steepest.

Symantec slipped 14 percent, and was the biggest decliner on the S&P, after the antivirus software maker lowered its yearly revenue forecast.

Dish jumped 9.4 percent after the satellite TV services provider reported a better-than-expected quarterly profit.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners for a 1.75-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and a 1.13-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded 11 new 52-week highs and two new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 51 new highs and 25 new lows. (Reporting by Amy Caren Daniel in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta)

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