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US STOCKS-Futures slide on taper, growth fears; oil slump hits energy stocks

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* Futures off: Dow 0.73%, S&P 0.65%, Nasdaq 0.53%

Aug 19 (Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures fell on Thursday on concerns the Federal Reserve could begin to rein in its massive monetary stimulus, while energy stocks tracked a slide in oil prices to their lowest in about three months.

Minutes released on Wednesday from the Fed’s meeting last month showed officials felt the employment benchmark for decreasing support for the economy “could be reached this year”, sending the S&P 500 sliding 1% in its worst day in a month.

Concerns about the sudden tapering at a time when macroeconomic data was signaling a slowdown in U.S. economic growth have knocked Wall Street’s main indexes off record highs this week.

With the S&P 500 still up more than 100% from its pandemic-lows hit in March 2020, investors have also said stocks might be due for a significant drop.

Focus on Thursday will be on the Labor Department’s weekly jobless claims report, before turning to the Fed’s annual research conference in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, next week for any read about the central bank’s next steps.

Many analysts expect the Fed to announce its plan to taper asset purchases as early as the Sept. 21-22 policy meeting.

At 6:18 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis were down 0.73%, S&P 500 e-minis lower by 0.65% and Nasdaq 100 e-minis off 0.53%.

Shares of Robinhood Markets Inc tumbled 12% on Thursday, after the owner of the popular trading app warned a trading frenzy among small-time investors that boosted its second-quarter revenue would slow down in the coming months.

Travel-related stocks including cruiseliners and airlines fell nearly 3% on fears the spread of the Delta variant of the coronavirus could spark more travel restrictions.

Technology-related stocks Apple Inc, Amazon.com Inc and Facebook Inc were among the smallest decliners in early trading. The stocks far outperformed the S&P 500 last year as their products saw higher demand during widespread COVID-19 lockdowns.

Energy stocks Chevron Corp and Exxon Mobil Corp fell 1.6% as oil sank to its lowest since May 21, pressured partly by a stronger U.S. dollar and a surprise increase in U.S. gasoline inventories. (Reporting by Sagarika Jaisinghani in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta)

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