Stock futures Plummet as Fed caution, Facebook data leak weighs

(Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures dropped on Monday, with reports of Facebook's user data being misused weighing on social media stocks and investors bracing for signals from the Federal Reserve for the future path of interest rate hikes.

While it is near certain that the Fed will raise rates by a quarter basis point on Wednesday, investors are more focused on whether policymakers think economic conditions are strong enough for four hikes this year, one more than the markets expect.

Concerns about faster rate hikes were at the heart of the stock market's sell off in early February, which saw the main U.S. indexes fall into correction territory.

While the market has pulled back since, healthy economic data has done little to ease jitters of a fourth rate hike this year.

The Fed will raise rates this week, all 104 economists polled by Reuters during March 5-13 said, with three more hikes to follow this year, driven by a solid labor market underpinning optimism.

That is more than the three hikes, including one in March, that economists had expected, according to an earlier poll.

By 6:47 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis (1YMc1) were down 133 points and S&P 500 e-minis (ESc1) fell 15 points, while Nasdaq 100 e-minis (NQc1) declined 99 points.

Shares of Facebook (O:FB) fell 3.7 percent in premarket trading in the wake of reports that the personal data of 50 million users were misused by a political consultant, prompting a review by the company and expressions of concern by several U.S. lawmakers.

Twitter (N:TWTR) dropped 1.6 percent, while Snapchat-owner Snap (N:SNAP) was off 0.7 percent.

Apple (O:AAPL) slipped more than 1 percent after brokerage Nomura Instinet said its checks showed there was little improvement in demand for iPhones this year and lowered estimate for the smartphone's sales.

The main U.S. indexes posted losses last week due to fears that President Donald Trump's tariff plans would spark retaliation from its trading partners, especially China, and on political uncertainties after high-profile White House exits.


The tariff issues are likely to dominate a gathering of finance leaders at a two-day meeting of the Group of 20 finance ministers this week.