Stocks are getting smoked amid trade war worries

Steven Mnuchin

FILE PHOTO: Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, (NYSE) in New York, U.S., March 22, 2018. It was Wall Street's worst week in more than two years.

"The administration is moving forcefully into the anti-trade portion of its policy agenda", Barclays economist Michael Gapen wrote in a report on Friday.

Banks also fell sharply.

"There is concern what the trade war could look like".

The Chinese government said it might place tariffs on a $3 billion list of U.S. goods such as pork, apples and steel pipes. That's about as much as the company was worth in in 2012, the year of its initial public offering.

Earlier this month the Trump administration ordered tariffs on imported steel and aluminum, and stocks dropped as investors anxious about the possibility of tougher restrictions on global trade and smaller profits for corporations.

Beijing urged the United States today to "pull back from the brink". These tariffs will add to fears that any further escalation of trade restrictions could weigh on global growth. The German DAX was 1.35% lower, the French CAC was 1.26% in negative territory and the Spanish IBEX was down 0.98%.

The Shanghai Composite index closed 3.6 percent at 3,152.76 points, its lowest close since Feb 9.

Investors fear dire consequences for the global economy if trade barriers start going up.

If China did cut its holdings of U.S. government debt, a step reported to be under discussion in January, it would have a significant impact on financial markets, pushing up interest rates and bonds and creating turbulence.

The S&P's financial sector.SPSY was the S&P's biggest percentage loser, at 3 percent, after a volatile session in which it was whip-sawed by volatile Treasury yields. For the smaller companies in the S&P 600 index, it's just 19.5 per cent.

It is more than likely for China to impose further tariffs on United States imports worth billions of dollars, and restricting U.S. agricultural products such as soybeans- one of the major American exports to China, This has been seen as one option that would hurt USA farmers, a segment of Trump's base. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 skidded 2 per cent to 5,820.70.

The losses were widespread and technology companies were pummelled.

And while the president has repeatedly touted the success of his policies by pointing to the soaring stock market, the blue-chip Dow Jones Industrial Average has lost 3000 points since it peaked three months ago.

In another sign investors are nervous, gold and silver prices jumped.

The dollar fell to 104.87 yen from 105.28 yen in late trading Thursday. He accuses China of manipulating its currency to advantage its exports; in fact, the yuan's value has increased steadily since Mr Trump's election, worsening China's export performance and improving America's. He had tweeted a threat to veto the measure.

USA crude futures were up 0.25 percent at $64.46 per barrel after losing 1.3 percent on Thursday. Brent crude, used to price worldwide oils, rose 33 cents to $68.71 a barrel in London.

Wholesale gasoline rose 2 cents to $2.04 a gallon.

The Chinese response sent shares in Asia tumbling on Friday, following Thursday's 723 point plunge on the Dow in NY.

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