U.S. Futures Point To A Slightly Lower Open Amid Simmering U.S.-Iran Tensions

geopolitical tensions

Wall Street set to open lower

Wall Street appears headed for a slightly lower open on Friday, as investors monitor a flaring geopolitical tensions between Washington and Tehran.

The New York Times is reporting that President Donald Trump gave initial approval for the U.S. air force to launch strikes on Iran in retaliation for the downing of an unmanned American drone, before changing course at the last minute.

U.S. officials say Iran shot down the drone over the Strait of Hormuz, while Iranians claim that it was in their airspace.

As of 4:41 a.m. ET, futures on the blue-chip Dow were down 25 points, or 0.09% to 26,749. Futures on the tech-heavy Nasdaq 100 fell 22 points, or 0.28% to 7,750.75 while those on the broader S&P 500 were seen declining 4.38 points, or 0.15% to 2,955.62.

Oil higher on U.S.-Iran tensions

Oil prices were higher early Friday as escalating tensions between the U.S. and Iran triggered fears of an armed conflict that could potentially disrupt oil supplies in the Middle East.

West Texas Intermediate, the U.S. oil benchmark, rose 0.3% to $57.21 a barrel. Brent crude, the international oil benchmark, climbed 0.5% to settle at $64.878 a barrel.

Apple warns Trump against China tariffs

Apple Inc (NASDAQ: AAPL) is requesting the U.S. government not to impose additional tariffs of as much as 25% on a slew of items imported from China. The tech giant says the levies will aid rivals and reduce the company’s contribution to the U.S. economy.

“We urge you not to proceed with these tariffs,” the Cupertino, California-based firm pleaded in a letter to U.S. trade representative Robert Lighthizer. Apple said the tariffs will hurt almost every product that the company makes, including MacBooks, iPhones, iMac, Apple Watches, iPads, and AirPods.

China and U.S. officials are set to resume talks aimed at ending their long-running trade dispute. President Xi Jinping and Trump have also confirmed that they will meet on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Osaka, Japan next week.

UnitedHealth to buy Equian for $3.2 billion

UnitedHealth Group Inc (NYSE: UNH) has agreed to acquire payments firm Equian for $3.2 billion, according to a report by The Wall Street Journal. Equian is owned by New Mountain Capital, a private-equity firm based in New York. The company provides payment-processing services for health-care insurers and companies.

UnitedHealth is likely to merge Equian into its Optum health services unit to help Optum expand beyond healthcare considering Equian has a broader client base. Shares of UnitedHealth were little changed in pre-market trading.