May 22, 2019 / 5:21 PM / a month ago

US STOCKS-Trade tensions keep Wall St lower ahead of Fed minutes

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* Qualcomm slumps after judge rules against co’s practices

* Lowe’s, Nordstrom fall on disappointing FY forecasts

* Banks trade lower ahead of Fed minutes

* Indexes off: Dow 0.40%, S&P 0.34%, Nasdaq 0.45% (Updates to early afternoon)

By Shreyashi Sanyal and Sruthi Shankar

May 22 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks dipped on Wednesday, as reports that Washington could impose restrictions on another Chinese technology company fanned trade tensions, while investors awaited the release of minutes from the Federal Reserve’s latest policy meeting.

Fears that tit-for-tat tariffs and other retaliatory actions by the United States and China will hit global growth have kept investors on edge, putting the S&P 500 on track to post its biggest monthly decline since the December sell-off.

Media reports on Wednesday said the Trump administration was considering sanctions on video surveillance firm Hikvision, the second major Chinese technology company facing U.S. curbs.

Washington last week added China’s telecoms equipment maker Huawei Technologies Co Ltd to its trade blacklist, but temporarily relaxed the curbs, sparking a market rebound on Tuesday.

“It doesn’t sound like talks are going to restart anytime soon, so we’ll have to wait until the G20 summit in late June,” said Ryan Nauman, market strategist at Informa Financial Intelligence in Zephyr Cove, Nevada.

“It is hard to trade when there is so much uncertainty and confusion out there.”

Also weighing on the markets was Qualcomm Inc’s 12.1% plunge, the biggest decliner on the S&P 500.

A federal judge ruled that the chipmaker illegally suppressed competition in the market for smartphone chips by threatening to cut off supplies and extracting excessive licensing fees.

A near 2% fall in Apple Inc, along with chipmakers, dragged down the S&P technology index 0.45%.

The Fed is expected to release at 2 p.m. ET (1800 GMT), minutes from its two-day policy meeting in late April when it held interest rates steady.

New York Fed President John Williams said at a press briefing that there is not currently a strong argument for changing rates, including as a response to low inflation readings that may due to temporary factors.

The interest rate-sensitive banks were down 0.7 ahead of the report.

At 12:55 p.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 102.38 points, or 0.40%, at 25,774.95. The S&P 500 was down 9.78 points, or 0.34%, at 2,854.58 and the Nasdaq Composite was down 34.65 points, or 0.45%, at 7,751.07.

Retailers wrapped up the first-quarter earnings season on a downbeat note, with Lowe’s Cos Inc falling 11.7% after the home improvement chain cut its full-year profit forecast. Lowe’s was the biggest drag on the consumer discretionary sector , down 0.88%.

Nordstrom Inc declined 9.6% after the department store operator reduced its full-year sales and profit forecasts.

Retailer Target Corp jumped 9.2%, the most among S&P 500 companies, after its quarterly same-store sales and profit beat estimates.

Declining issues outnumbered advancers for a 1.80-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and a 2.09-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded 20 new 52-week highs and eight new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 37 new highs and 94 new lows. (Reporting by Shreyashi Sanyal and Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila)

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