March 20, 2018 / 11:58 AM / 6 months ago

US STOCKS-Futures flat with Fed meeting, Trump's tariffs in focus

* Futures: Dow off 11 pts, S&P up 2.25 pts, Nasdaq down 6.25 pts

By Sruthi Shankar

March 20 (Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures treaded water Tuesday, a day after a Facebook-led selloff sent Wall Street swooning, with investors bracing for an imminent interest rate hike and as the United States readies to slap tariffs on China.

The Federal Reserve is widely expected to increase rates by a quarter basis point at the end of its two-day meeting on Wednesday, but the markets are more focused on how aggressive the central bank will be with monetary policy.

Traders currently expect two more rate hikes later this year, although they said policymakers could set a hawkish tone by forecasting four increases in their "dot plot" projections.

The Trump administration is expected to unveil up to $60 billion in new tariffs on Chinese imports by Friday, targeting technology, telecommunications and intellectual property, sources familiar with the matter told Reuters.

Traders said Monday's sell-off could be an excuse for investors to readjust positions as they brace for a new monetary policy regime under Fed Chair Jerome Powell as well as additional protectionist trade measures by Trump.

By 6:57 a.m. ET, Nasdaq 100 e-minis were down 6.25 points, Dow e-minis fell 11 points, while S&P 500 e-minis rose 2.25 points.

The Nasdaq Composite index and the S&P 500 technology index both fell more than 2 percent on Monday, in their steepest one-day declines since Feb. 8.

Shares of Facebook, which instigated the rout, were down 0.15 percent in premarket trading following a 6.8 percent drop on Monday on reports that its users' data was misused.

Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg faced calls from both U.S. and European lawmakers demanding explanations and the fears of greater regulation, or at least scrutiny, on how companies use data had sent shares of other internet stocks down as well.

Apple, Alphabet, Netflix, Microsoft and Amazon were up between 0.3 percent and 0.7 percent.

Software stocks could come under pressure Tuesday after Oracle reported quarterly revenue that missed Wall Street estimates on disappointing sales from its cloud business. The stock was down 8.9 percent premarket. (Reporting by Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru; Editing by Savio D'Souza)

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