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Wall Street to open flat as political, tariff concerns persist

(Reuters) – U.S. stock index futures pointed to a flat opening for Wall Street on Friday as continuing turmoil in the Trump administration kept investors on edge.

Traders work on the trading floor at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in Manhattan, New York City, U.S., March 14, 2018. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

The three main indexes were set to record losses for the week that was dominated by concerns of global trade war and political drama that began with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s exit.

The Washington Post reported on Thursday that U.S. President Donald Trump had decided to remove H.R. McMaster as his national security advisor.

However, White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders tweeted that there were no changes at the National Security Council.

“News that McMaster might be out of the Trump administration… we had a small dip, but the market is not necessarily in a strong zone this week,” said Randy Frederick, vice president of trading and derivatives for Charles Schwab in Austin, Texas.

“I’m not so sure if it’s just the staffing changes, the continued uncertainty about the tariffs that’s weighing more than anything else.”

By 8:51 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis 1YMc1 had added 4 points, S&P 500 e-minis ESc1 rose 2.5 points and Nasdaq 100 e-minis NQc1 gained 3.25 points.

The Dow .DJI closed on Thursday with slight gains as fears about a global trade war eased after comments from Peter Navarro, the White House’s top adviser on international trade.

However, the S&P 500 .SPX recorded its longest losing streak in 2018 after the New York Times reported that U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller subpoenaed the Trump Organization for documents, including some related to Russia.

Among stocks, Tiffany & Co (TIF.N) fell 6 percent in premarket trading after the upscale jeweler missed Wall Street estimates for quarterly same-store sales and full-year profit forecast.

Adobe Systems (ADBE.O) rose about 4 percent after the Photoshop maker topped analysts’ profit and revenue estimates for the seventh straight quarter.

Micron Technology (MU.O) rose 1.6 percent after Baird analysts raised their price target on the stock by $40 to $100, and Western Digital WDC.N gained 2 percent after a stock upgrade to “outperform”.

Volatility is expected to increase on Friday as investors unwind interests in futures and options contracts prior to their expiration.

Reporting by Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru; Editing by Arun Koyyur

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