Futures drop ahead of closely watched jobs data

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© Reuters. Traders work on the floor of the NYSE in New York© Reuters. Traders work on the floor of the NYSE in New York

By Shreyashi Sanyal

(Reuters) – U.S. stock futures fell about 0.5 percent on Friday, sitting out a modest recovery in global markets, as investors awaited U.S. payrolls data amid fears that the economy is heading into a rough patch after years of solid growth.

Nonfarm payrolls are expected to have risen by 200,000 in November, according to economists, after surging 250,000 the month before, as U.S. companies likely maintained a solid pace of hiring.

A strong report, which is due at 8:30 a.m. ET (1330 GMT), could allay some fears about the economy’s health, but would also increase the likelihood of the Federal Reserve tightening monetary policy. <0#FF:>

Wall Street has been weighed down this year by worries ranging from China-U.S. trade tensions to climbing U.S. bond yields and peaking corporate profits, all of which have fanned concerns about economic growth.

Fed Chairman Jerome Powell, however, said late Thursday that the U.S. economy continued to expand and emphasized the strength of the labor market.

Fed officials were considering whether to signal a new “wait-and-see” mentality after a likely rate hike at their meeting in December, the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday.

The markets closed slightly lower on Thursday, pulling back from a tumble after the arrest of the finance chief of Chinese telecom equipment maker Huawei Technologies Ltd [HWT.UL] raised fears that the move could escalate a trade war between the United States and China.

The early selloff on Thursday saw more than 1,300 NYSE and Nasdaq stocks hit new 52-week lows – the highest since January 2016.

At 7:53 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis () were down 118 points, or 0.47 percent. S&P 500 e-minis () were down 13.25 points, or 0.49 percent and Nasdaq 100 e-minis () were down 36 points, or 0.53 percent.

Among stocks trading in early premarket, shares of General Electric Co (N:) dropped 1.2 percent after Reuters reported that at least 18 of GE’s turbines were shutting down worldwide for blade repairs.

Tesla Inc (O:) rose 2 percent after Jefferies upgraded its stock to “buy,” saying electric carmaker would likely be one of few original equipment manufacturers to post higher earnings in 2019-20.

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