North American equity index futures declined on Friday, for a third consecutive session, as market participants grew increasingly concerned that Donald Trump’s decision to not meet with Chinese President, Xi Jinping, before the US self-imposed March 1 trade deal deadline, signals a lack of progress in long-running trade negotiations between the world’s two largest economies.

Trump told reporters in the White House, that he has no plans to meet Xi between now and March 1, while his administration has vowed to increase tariffs on $200 billion worth of China-made goods to 25% from 10%, if a trade deal isn’t in place.

Trump’s comments suggested talks, which resume next week in Beijing, with US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, remain stuck on key issues such as China’s broader market reforms and intellectual property protections.

These moves in pre-market trading follow suit to Thursday’s session, where Wall Street saw shares decline, after White House adviser, Larry Kudlow, stated there was a “pretty sizable distance” between the US and China regarding a trade deal, whilst overseas, GDP forecasts were slashed by both the European Commission and the Bank of England, ratcheting up worries surrounding global growth.

The S&P 500 ended the day -0.9% in the red, its worst day in two weeks, tugged lower by the Energy sector, down -2.21%, on the back of lower oil prices, as well as Technology and Materials shares, down -1.3% a piece.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average and Nasdaq Composite shared a similar fate, both negative -0.78% and -1.34%, respectively.

Today’s session will likely remain attuned to ongoing global trade developments, as well as Friday’s earnings reports, with; Goodyear (GT), Hasbro (HAS), Exelon (EXC), Arconic (ARNC), Phillips 66 (PSX) and Cleveland-Cliffs (CLF) set to report before market open.

TODAY’S TOP HEADLINES

China & Trade: Trump is reportedly expected to ban Chinese telecommunication equipment from US networks. (CNBC)
President Donald Trump is expected to sign an executive order next week that would ban Chinese telecommunication equipment from US wireless networks, Politico reported late Thursday, citing three sources.

China & Trade: Trade Talk Stakes Rise as the Data Darken. (Bloomberg)
A Trump-Xi meeting ahead of the March 1 deadline is now off the table, diminishing hopes for a breakthrough by then. As the world awaits the outcome of a new round of talks in Beijing mid-February, trade data keeps worsening.

ECONOMIC CALENDAR:
Today’s Economical Announcements

10:00AM – ★☆☆ – Wholesale Invent. (MoM) (Dec) (Previous: 0.3%)

STOCKS IN THE SPOTLIGHT:
Pre-Market Movers & News Related Stocks

Skechers (SKX): [EARNINGS] Beat estimates by 8 cents a share, with quarterly profit of 31 cents per share. Revenue slightly below forecasts.

Mattel (MAT): [EARNINGS] Earned an adjusted 4 cents per share for the fourth quarter, surprising analysts who had expected a loss of 16 cents per share. Revenue also beat forecasts.

Coty (COTY): [EARNINGS] Beat estimates by 2 cents a share, with adjusted quarterly profit of 24 cents per share. Revenue beat forecast.

Hasbro (HAS): [EARNINGS] Earned an adjusted $1.33 per share for its latest quarter, well below the consensus estimate of $1.67. Revenue below forecasts, with gaming revenue down 22 percent and partner brands revenue down 20 percent.

Expedia (EXPE): [EARNINGS] Reported adjusted quarterly profit of $1.24 per share, 16 cents a share above estimates. Revenue beat forecasts.

Eli Lilly (LLY): [NEWS] The drugmaker announced plans to divest its remaining stake in Elanco Animal Health through an exchange offer.

Fiat Chrysler (FCAU): [NEWS] Fiat Chrysler paid $77 million in penalties for failing to meet 2016 model year fuel economy standards, according to Reuters.

Verizon (VZ): [NEWS] Verizon elected CEO Hans Vestberg as chairman, effective March 9, following the retirement of former CEO Lowell McAdam as chairman.

Visa (V): [NEWS] Visa boosted its takeover bid for British payment company Earthport to just under $320 million, topping a bid by rival MasterCard.

Gannett (GCI): [NEWS] Gannett is the target of a proxy fight, with hedge fund-backed newspaper owner Digital First Media seeking to replace a majority of the USA Today publisher’s board members.

Wells Fargo (WFC): [NEWS] The bank said most of its ATMs and online and mobile services are working once again, after a widespread outage yesterday.

AutoZone (AZO): [DOWNGRADE] Downgraded to “perform” from “outperform” at Oppenheimer, pointing to concerns about a cyclical slowdown for the group after a period of outperformance.

O’Reilly Automotive (ORLY): [DOWNGRADE] Downgraded to “perform” from “outperform” at Oppenheimer, pointing to concerns about a cyclical slowdown for the group after a period of outperformance.

IAC/InterActiveCorp (IAC): [EARNINGS] Reported a quarterly profit of $2.04 per share, beating the consensus estimate of $1.67 a share. Revenue topped forecasts.

Covetrus (CVET): [NEWS] The animal health company begins trading today on the Nasdaq, after being formed by the combination of Henry Schein Animal Health and Vets First Choice.

MOMENTUM STOCKS:

GAINERS: HBI, SEE, SEND, MAS, CAH, CDW, BPR, NYT
LOSERS: VVV, FEYE, SONO, TWTR, AAOI, LITE, VNDA, BTU, APC

TODAY’S IPOs:

BankFlorida (BFL) (Low: 9.50, High: 10.50) (Shares: 4.2M)
Gossamer Bio (GOSS) (Price: 16) (Shares: 17.3M)
Harpoon Therapeutics (HARP) (Low: 13, High:15) (Shares: 5.4M)
IMAC Holdings (IMAC) (Price: 5) (Shares: 0.9M)
RMG Acquisition (RMG.U) (Price: 10) (Shares: 20M)