Fresh shockwaves hit U.S. markets after Trump tweets, China steps up trade war

news image

Stocks dropped Monday as technology companies came under fire and fears grew about a trade war with China.

It was a broad sell-off: The Dow Jones industrial average plunged more than 700 points, or 3 percent, in afternoon trading. The Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index was down 3.2percent and the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite was down 3.5 percent as volatility continues to rock markets.

All three indexes are negative for the year and are in correction territory. A correction is generally considered a 10 percent drop from its peak.

Eight of the 11 stock sectors are on pace to close in correction territory Monday. Energy was leading the downhill march, followed by consumer staples, financial services, industrials and information technology.

China’s government said on Sunday that it would immediately impose tariffs on 128 U.S. commodities it imports in retaliation for President Trump’s levies on steel and aluminum. The tax on U.S. goods could include pork, soybeans and fruit as well as aircraft.

The fears of an impending trade war have rocked markets since Trump announced 25 percent tariffs on steel and 10 percent on aluminum that the United States imports.

In a Monday note to clients, Jason Pride, chief investment officer for private clients at Glenmede Wealth Management, cited festering trade war fears as a driver in the market’s volatility.

“The Trump administration’s announcements on trade sanctions in total so far encompass a relatively small portion of overall U.S. trade,” according to Pride’s note. “However, this could only be the beginning, as the Trump administration ponders the extension of further sanctions on the Chinese trade relationship.”

The Dow’s big laggards included Intel, Cisco, Caterpillar, 3M, Nike and Microsoft, as well as retail giants Home Depot and Walmart.

Shares of athletic wear giant Nike were down nearly 4 percent following a weekend story in the Wall Street Journal that, citing current and former employees, described workplace culture problems that have persisted for years. One executive who was widely expected to be the next chief executive had resigned and would leave the company in August, according to a March memo from the current CEO.

Troubles for technology companies are another big factor driving stocks lower. Markets were also hampered Monday by President Trump’s Twitter assault on Amazon.com, in which he knocked the retailers relationship with the U.S. Postal Service. The retail giant’s stock was down more than 5.5 percent.

“I guess as long as there is uncertainty around global trade, markets will be on edge,” said Charlie Ripley, investment strategist with Allianz Investment Management. “A lot of this today is being driven by technology. Trump had some unfavorable comments on Amazon and the Post Office, and that is helping drive down the tech sector.”

Shares of computer-chip giant Intel were on pace for one of their worst days in years on a Bloomberg report that Apple may take its chip manufacturing in-house.

Shares of Silicon Valley darling Tesla were off 5.7 percent following questions about its self-driving technology system known as Autopilot. The company said Friday, after the markets closed, that a recent fatal crash of one of its cars involved an activated Autopilot. In an unusual move, the National Transportation Safety Board investigating the crash publicly said on Sunday that it was “unhappy” with Tesla’s public discussion of the accident.

Also on Sunday, Tesla’s founder and CEO took to Twitter to play an April Fool’s day prank, joking that “Telsa has gone completely and totally bankrupt.” Tesla’s share value has slumped 18 percent in the past five trading days.

The Nasdaq is close to losing all its gains for 2018. That is a surprising reversal for the technology industry, which had spearheaded much of the gains of the bull market.

Facebook came under heavy fire from lawmakers last month in the United States and Britain after news reports raised questions about whether it allowed third-party developers to access the data of users without their permission — a potential violation of its privacy agreement with the U.S. government.

Facebook also finds itself in a tiff with rival giant Apple. Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg during the weekend responded to Apple chief executive Tim Cook’s criticism of the social-media company’s data crisis. The scandal involved a third-party company, Cambridge Analytica, which harvested personal data on 50 million Facebook users.

Cook criticized Zuckerberg during an interview last week when he was asked what he would do if he were the Facebook chief.

“I wouldn’t be in this situation,” Cook said, adding “We care about the user experience, and we’re not going to traffic in your personal life.”

Zuckerberg responded in an interview with Vox, appearing to criticize Apple’s business model as based on “serving rich people.”

“If you want to build a service that helps connect everyone in the world, then there are a lot of people who can’t afford to pay,” Zuckerberg said, referring to Facebook. “And therefore, as with a lot of media, having an advertising-supported model is the only rational model that can support building this service to reach people. … But if you want to build a service which is not just serving rich people, then you need to have something that people can afford.”

Read More