(Corrects day of the week in first paragraph)
* Ford up after double-upgrade by Morgan Stanley
* February retail sales falls 0.1 pct vs est rise of 0.3 pct
* U.S. producer prices up 0.2 pct vs est 0.1 pct
* Futures up: Dow 103 pts, S&P 7.75 pts, Nasdaq 29 pts
By Sruthi Shankar
March 14 (Reuters) - Wall Street was set to open higher on Wednesday, gaining momentum from economic data that further eased fears of faster interest rate hikes in 2018. Also helping the sentiment was a faster-than-expected growth in China’s factory activity in the first two months of the year, which boosted commodity prices and oil prices.
China strong growth comes at a time when U.S. President Donald Trump is seeking to impose tariffs on up to $60 billion of Chinese imports.
“China came out with a better news than what was expected,” said Robert Pavlik, chief investment strategist at SlateStone Wealth.
“The market is still trying to weigh concerns about tariffs on one hand and understanding how the President acts and how he speaks openly and comes up with a different policy in the end.”
The S&P 500 and the Dow closed 0.6 percent lower on Tuesday after Trump fired Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and appointed CIA Director Mike Pompeo as replacement.
Market sentiment took a hit early last week after the President announced plan to levy tariffs on steel and aluminum import.
Retail sales fell for a third straight month in February as households cut back on purchases of motor vehicles and other big-ticket items.
Another set showed U.S. producer prices increased slightly more than expected in February, but a gauge of underlying producer price pressures that excludes food, energy and trade services rose 0.4 percent last month, matching January’s gain.
The reports follow Tuesday’s consumer prices data that pointed to annual U.S. core inflation steady at 1.8 percent, cementing investors expectations that the Federal Reserve would not raise rates more than three times in 2018.
“I’m not thinking that positive futures will end up in a positive day,” said Pavlik.
By 8:38 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis were up 103 points, S&P 500 e-minis up 7.75 points and Nasdaq 100 e-minis rose 29 points.
Singapore-based Broadcom Ltd withdrew its $117 billion bid to acquire Qualcomm Inc, two days after U.S. President Donald Trump blocked the deal citing national security concerns.
Qualcomm shares were up 0.68 percent and Broadcom rose 0.34 percent in premarket trading.
Ford shares were up nearly 4 percent after Morgan Stanley double-upgraded the stock to “overweight” and raised its earnings forecast for the first time in two years.
Signet Jewelers fell about 10 percent after the company reported lower same-store sales in the fourth quarter. (Reporting by Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru; Editing by Arun Koyyur)