March 26, 2018 / 1:19 PM / 3 months ago

US STOCKS-Futures jump on report of U.S.-China trade talk

* Boeing, Caterpillar surge amid easing trade war fears

* Wall St coming off its worst week in over two years

* Futures up: Dow 320 pts, S&P 35.25 pts, Nasdaq 110.75 pts (Adds comment, details, updates prices)

By Sruthi Shankar

March 26 (Reuters) - U.S. stock market futures were up more than 1 percent on Monday, boosted by reports that the United States and China were willing to negotiate tariffs and trade imbalances to avert a trade war.

The United States asked China in a letter last week to slash tariffs on U.S. autos, buy more U.S.-made semiconductors and give U.S. firms greater access to the Chinese financial sector, the Wall Street Journal reported on Monday.

Premier Li Keqiang said Monday China would treat foreign and domestic firms equally, not force foreign firms to transfer technology and would strengthen intellectual property rights, repeating promises that have failed to placate Washington.

Stock markets were gripped by fears of a global trade war after President Donald Trump last week moved to impose tariffs on Chinese imports of up to $60 billion, adding to the import restrictions he has already placed on solar panels, steel and aluminum among others.

“There are some tentative signs that fears of an escalation of trade tensions are beginning to ease,” Craig Erlam, a market analyst at OANDA wrote in a note to clients.

“A rebound in global equities overnight is offering the market some optimism of stabilization after last week’s rout.”

By 8:37 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis were up 320 points, S&P 500 e-minis rose 35.25 points and Nasdaq 100 e-minis gained 110.75 points.

Shares of Boeing and Caterpillar were up about 3 percent in premarket trading. They, along with other industrial stocks, have taken a beating in the wake of Trump’s tariffs plans due to their exposure to China.

Last week, the three main U.S. indexes posted their steepest weekly declines since January 2016 as the fears of a global trade war added to jitters about a faster pace of U.S. interest rate hikes and fears of regulations to the high-flying technology sector in the wake of Facebook’s data scandal.

The S&P 500 is down 3.2 percent for the year, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average has slid 4.2 percent. The Nasdaq Composite held on to a 1.3 percent gain.

Microsoft rose 3.8 percent premarket on Monday after Morgan Stanley raised its price target on the stock, saying the company could hit $1 trillion in market value with growing public adoption of the cloud and improving margins.

Intel gained more than 2 percent after brokerage Raymond James upgraded the stock to “market perform”. (Reporting by Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D’Silva)

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