Published: Sat, April 07, 2018
Markets | By Terence Owen

U.S. stocks trade lower amid trade concerns

U.S. stocks trade lower amid trade concerns

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was under pressure on Thursday, extending a downturn for blue-chip stocks that risks pushing it to its lowest close since early February, according to FactSet data.

U.S. stocks opened sharply lower after China unveiled plans to hit major USA exports such as soybeans, cars and small aircraft with retaliatory tariffs, which seemed to portend a worsening tit-for-tat conflict between the world's two biggest economies.

The Dow ended 572 points lower, closing at 23,932 for a 2.3 percent decline. The Nasdaq composite dropped 161 points, or 2.3 percent, to 6,915.

"A breakdown in trade negotiations and policy missteps could lead to a full-blown trade war that would damage global business and consumer confidence, investment prospects, and growth", says Terry Chan, credit analyst at S&P Global Ratings.

Trump said late Thursday that he was considering tariffs on $100 billion more in Chinese exports, which would triple what the United States is already planning.

Anxiety returned to Wall Street after three days of gains.

"Markets are forced to confront the idea that rates are going up and the stock market is not going to derail that process", McMillan said. Boeing rose $7.46, or 2.3 percent, to $334.90 after a 1-percent drop.

Thursday was another positive day for the broad US markets.

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Automakers Ford, General Motors, Fiat Chrysler and Tesla fell between 2 percent and 4 percent.

Stocks were mostly unaffected by the March jobs report, which showed that the USA economy added 103,000 positions, down from a much bigger gain in February and well below what analysts were expecting. While annual growth in average hourly earnings rose to 2.7 percent, it stayed below the 3 percent that economists estimate is needed to lift inflation toward the Federal Reserve's 2-percent target.

The June gold contract was up $2.40 to $1,339.70 an ounce and the May copper contract was down six cents to $3.00 a pound.

Employers added 103,000 jobs in March, which is weaker than the last few months.

Crude oil prices slumped 2.5 percent to about $62 per barrel. Bond prices rise as yields fall. Silver edged up 1 cent to $16.36 an ounce.

CURRENCIES: The dollar rose to 107.39 yen from 106.74 yen The euro fell to $1.2242 from $1.2280. The euro rose to $1.2287 from $1.2256.

The S&P 500 index showed four new 52-week highs and one new low, while the Nasdaq recorded 47 new highs and 24 new lows.

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