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U.S. futures fall on tech probe

U.S. futures fell after the U.S. Department of Justice announced an antitrust investigation into leading online platforms

U.S. futures fell on Wednesday, dragged down by technology stocks after the U.S. Department of Justice announced an antitrust investigation into leading online platforms, raising fears that regulatory action could wreck the business model of some highly profitable companies.

The DoJ did not name which companies were under investigation, but said it would look at how they got their market power and whether they were engaging in best practices.

The Department’s review will consider the widespread concerns that consumers, businesses, and entrepreneurs have expressed about search, social media, and some retail services online, the agency said in its notice, which suggests that the likes of Google, Facebook and Amazon will be investigated.

Google, Facebook and Amazon were all down over 1% in premarket trade.

Facebook was also hit with news that it is expected to settle with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission for $100 million its disclosure of privacy practices and make a $5 billion settlement with the FTC.

Nasdaq 100 futures slumped 42 points or 0.5% by 6:41 AM ET (10:41 GMT), while Dow futures slipped 58 points or 0.2% and S&P 500 futures fell 8 points or 0.3%.

Earnings continued to be in focus, with Boeing, and others reporting before the bell, while Tesla, Facebook and Equifax release their earnings after the bell. AT&T slipped 0.3% despite its second-quarter earnings meeting analysts’ forecasts.

Makers of semiconductors were higher, with Texas Instruments surging 6.6% after its earnings encouraged hopes that global demand for chips will pick up in the second half, while Micron gained 0.4% and Advanced Micro Devices inched up 0.2%.

Social app Snap jumped 10.6% after it said it added 13 million daily active users in the last quarter.

Elsewhere, CannTrust fell 4.5% after reports that its top executives were informed in November of illegal cannabis growth, it was reported.

On the economic front, manufacturing and services PMIs are at 9:45 AM ET (13:45 GMT), already preceded by gloomy readings out of Japan and Europe. New home sales are due at 10:00 AM ET (14:00 GMT).

In commodities, crude oil gained 0.1% to $56.85 a barrel. Gold futures rose 0.3% to $1,425.75 a troy ounce, while the U.S. dollar index, which measures the greenback against a basket of six major currencies, was flat at 97.403.

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