May 24, 2018 / 11:57 AM / 3 months ago

US STOCKS-Futures flat as auto tariff threat dulls Fed optimism

* Futures dip: Dow 0.11 pct, S&P 0.07 pct, Nasdaq 0.01 pct

By Medha Singh

May 24 (Reuters) - Worries over U.S. trade protectionism, this time around car imports, weighed on Wall Street's main indexes on Thursday, overshadowing optimism that the Federal Reserve may be more tolerant of rising inflation than previously expected.

The Trump administration launched a national security probe into car and truck imports that could lead to new tariffs, with Beijing calling the move an "abuse" of national security clauses and saying it would defend its interests.

The decision added to jitters over trade negotiations, reignited after Trump called for "a different structure" in any trade deal with China.

While shares of international automakers skidded on the tariff possibility, shares of U.S. automakers inched higher. Ford, General Motors and Tesla rose between 0.2 to 0.6 percent premarket.

At 7:34 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis were down 27 points, or 0.11 percent. S&P 500 e-minis were down 2 points, or 0.07 percent and Nasdaq 100 e-minis were down 0.75 points, or 0.01 percent.

Wall Street posted small gains on Wednesday after minutes from the Fed's latest meeting suggested higher inflation may not result in faster interest rate hikes.

Shares of Victoria's Secret-owner L Brands fell 5.9 percent, while those of data storage equipment maker NetApp dropped 3.9 percent following the companies' weak forecasts.

Williams-Sonoma jumped 11.8 percent after the Pottery Barn owner posted strong quarterly results and gave a healthy forecast.

Initial jobless claims is expected to have fallen to 220,000 for last week, from 222,000 the week before. Data is due at 8:30 a.m. ET. (Reporting by Medha Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila)

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