US equity futures searching for direction hours before Tuesday's opening bell

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U.S. equity futures are searching for direction ahead of the Tuesday session on Wall Street.

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A selloff in Facebook stock and shares of other big technology companies rippled through the market, pushing major U.S. indexes to steep declines to start the week. Stocks opened with mild declines before losses quickly accelerated.

The S&P 500 fell 1.3% to 4,300.46. The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 0.9% to 34,002.92, and the tech-heavy Nasdaq lost 2.1% to 14,255.48.

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Small company stocks also fell. The Russell 2000 index gave up 1.1% to 2,217.47.

Facebook slid 4.9% a day after a former employee told "60 Minutes" the company has consistently chosen its own interests over the public good. The social network and its Instagram and WhatsApp platforms also suffered a worldwide outage that began around midmorning U.S. time on Monday.

Trader John Romolo works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. U.S. equity futures are searching for direction ahead of the Tuesday session on Wall Street. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

Apple fell 2.5% and Microsoft dropped 2.1%.

Rising bond yields and energy prices are stoking investor concern about inflation.

The price of U.S. oil has risen to nearly $78 per barrel, its highest level since 2014, as OPEC and allied oil producers stuck to a plan for cautious production increases even as global demand for crude surges.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury note held steady at 1.48%.

Natural gas prices jumped 2.6%. Energy companies rose along with energy prices. Devon Energy rose 5.3% for the biggest gain in the S&P 500. Marathon Oil climbed 4.1%.

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Investors are increasingly worried about inflation as oil prices rise and companies contend with supply problems that increase their costs and force them to raise prices. Wall Street is also worried about the Federal Reserve's timing on trimming back bond purchases and an eventual move to raise its benchmark interest rate.

Wall Street will get more information on the economy’s health this week. On Tuesday, the Institute for Supply Management will release its service sector index for September. The services sector is the largest part of the economy and its health is a key factor for growth.

On Friday, the Labor Department will release its employment report for September. The employment market has been struggling to fully recover from the damage done by COVID-19 more than a year ago.

Meanwhile, shares have fallen in Asia after the broad tech company slide on Wall Street.

Tokyo’s Nikkei dropped 3%, while oil prices edged higher.

China-U.S. tensions regained the spotlight after U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai said she plans frank conversations with officials in Beijing about an interim trade deal aimed at resolving a tariff war.

Tai said she did not want to "inflame trade tensions with China." But her comments suggested continuity of U.S. policy toward Beijing under President Joe Biden from the strategy adopted by his predecessor, Donald Trump.

Speaking to the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C., she also said that the U.S. "must defend to the hilt our economic interests" and take "all steps necessary to protect ourselves against the waves of damage inflicted over the years through unfair competition."

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Shanghai is closed until Friday for a national holiday. But shares fell 0.3% in Hong Kong to 23,989.61, while Tokyo finished the morning down 2.8% at 27,658.31. South Korea's Kospi dropped 2.1% to 2,956.04 and the S&P/ASX 200 in Australia declined 0.8% to 7,218.90.

In Tuesday trading in Asia, benchmark U.S. crude was up 35 cents to $77.97 per barrel. Brent crude, the standard for international pricing, gained 47 cents to $81.73 per barrel.

The U.S. dollar rose to 111.11 Japanese yen from 110.93 yen. The euro slipped to $1.1608 from $1.1618.

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AP Business Writers Damian J. Troise and Alex Veiga contributed.

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