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Stocks, Treasury yields dive as trade concerns simmer

U.S. stocks sold off at the end of the trading day Tuesday after a holiday weekend for investors in the U.S. and U.K.

The S&P 500 (^GSPC) fell 0.84%, or 23.67 points, as of market close, with the health-care and materials sectors leading declines and tech stocks outperforming. The Dow (^DJI) dropped 0.93%, or 237.92 points, while the Nasdaq (^IXIC) edged down 0.39%, or 29.66 points.

Treasury prices were bid higher, with yields across the curve falling Tuesday morning. The yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury note fell 6.1 basis points to 2.268% Tuesday afternoon, hovering at the lowest level since late 2017.

Investors returned from Monday’s market closure to face ongoing concerns for the future of U.S.-China trade relations. Over the weekend, President Donald Trump said during a state visit in Japan that the U.S. was “not ready to make a deal” with China, and that tariffs on goods from the country could “go up very, very substantially, very easily.”

However, Trump added that he thinks “sometime in the future China and the United States will absolutely have a great trade deal.”

The Trump administration earlier this month revealed a list of $300 billion worth of Chinese goods that would be affected by a new duty of 25%. China also plans to slap tariffs of up to 25% on $60 billion in U.S. goods starting Saturday.

Despite the trade concerns, U.S. consumers appear for the time being to remain optimistic. The Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence Index, which serves as a gauge of consumers’ willingness to spend, surged to 134.1 in May, up from April’s reading of 129.2. This comes following a separate survey from the University of Michigan, which most recently showed sentiment jumped to a 15-year high in May. The survey period for that report, however, took place before the U.S. escalation of tariffs on Chinese-made goods in mid-May.

Thomas Lee, right, works with fellow traders on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, Thursday, May 23, 2019. Stocks are falling at the open on Wall Street as investors worry about an apparent stalemate in trade talks between the U.S. and China. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

Meanwhile, market participants continue to monitor the U.K. contest to replace Theresa May as prime minister, after May last week announced her resignation amid multiple failed attempts to bring Parliament together to deliver a Brexit deal.

Boris Johnson, considered the favorite among Conservative members to take over as prime minister, said Britain would depart from the E.U. at the end of the six-month Brexit extension ending October 31 “deal or no deal.” Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, another candidate in the crowded field of potential successors to May, said pursuing a no-deal exit would amount to “political suicide.”

The British pound (GBPUSD=X) weakened against the U.S. dollar to $1.267 Tuesday morning in New York, while the euro (EURUSD=X) broke below $1.12 amid a spate of election results across the EU.

STOCKS

Fiat Chrysler (FCAU) on Monday announced that it proposed a $35 billion merger with Renault SA (RNO.PA) in a deal that would create the world’s third-largest automaker, behind Toyota and Volkswagen.

The deal would comprise 50-50 ownership between Fiat Chrysler and Renault shareholders after a 2.5 billion euro dividend for existing Fiat Chrysler shareholders, and would be conducted under a listed Dutch holding company. The enlarged business would have the capacity to produce more than 8.7 million vehicles per year, and targeted the equivalent of $5.6 billion in annual savings. Renault said Monday that its board of directors met to examine the proposal.

Emily McCormick is a reporter for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter: @emily_mcck

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