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* New jobless claims up last week
* Curevac tumbles on missing COVID-19 vaccine efficacy goal
* Ford gains on upbeat earnings forecast
* Futures off: Dow 0.3%, S&P 0.3%, Nasdaq 0.5% (Adds comment, updates prices)
June 17 (Reuters) - Weakness in tech shares was set to pull Wall Street lower on Thursday after the Federal Reserve signaled it could start tapering its stimulus earlier than expected, piling pressure on a sector that is seen as vulnerable to higher interest rates.
Shares of tech-heavyweights Amazon.com Inc, Apple , Microsoft Corp, Facebook Inc and Google-parent Alphabet Inc, which soared last year on the back of an ultra-loose policy by the Fed, fell between 0.4% and 0.8% in early deals.
“In the short run, tech will have a harder time outperforming the cyclicals only because the Fed is hinting at raising interest rates,” said Tom Mantione, managing director, UBS Private Wealth Management, based in Stamford, Connecticut.
In a hawkish surprise on Wednesday, the Fed hinted at two rate hikes in 2023, a year earlier than expected, and also said it was expecting inflation to hit 3.4% this year, well above its initial 2% goal.
Dow futures dropped to a near one-month low, with Cisco and Intel Corp among the top losers in early trade.
Rate-sensitive lenders including Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America and Wells Fargo, on the other hand, rose between 0.4% and 0.7%.
The pace of economic growth and reopening optimism has driven the S&P 500 and Nasdaq indexes to record highs.
“The economy is growing significantly faster than the rate at which inflation is growing, that coupled with the reopening momentum is quite supportive for stocks and we see the wider mega tech area to perform better in the long term and have steady investor interest,” added Mantione.
At 8:47 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis were down 90 points, or 0.26%, S&P 500 e-minis were down 14 points, or 0.33%, and Nasdaq 100 e-minis were down 65.5 points, or 0.47%.
The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits increased last week for the first time in more than a month, but layoffs are easing amid a reopening economy and a shortage of people willing to work.
In corporate news, U.S.-listed shares of CureVac NV tumbled 43% after the German biotech said its COVID-19 vaccine was 47% effective in a late-stage trial, missing the study’s main goal.
Ford Motor Co rose 3.2% after the carmaker said an improvement in its automotive business would help it post second-quarter adjusted operating earnings above its own expectations. (Reporting by Shashank Nayar in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila and Anil D’Silva)