Wall Street closed sharply lower on Tuesday as the trade conflict between the United States and China intensified further. Comments from top U.S. government officials raised concerns about a fresh tariff war which could dent investor confidence in risky assets like equities. All three major stock indexes finished in the red.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI) plummeted 1.8% or 473.39 points to close at 25,965.09. The S&P 500 shaded 1.7% to close at 2,884.05. Meanwhile, the Nasdaq Composite Index closed at 7,963.76, plunging 2%. The fear-gauge CBOE Volatility Index (VIX) increased 25.1% to close at 19.32, its highest closing in nearly three months. A total of 7.8 billion shares were traded on Tuesday, higher than the last 20-session average of 6.71 billion.Decliners outnumbered advancers on the NYSE by a 4.13-to-1 ratio. On Nasdaq, a 3.32-to-1 ratio favored declining issues.
How Did The Benchmarks Perform?
The Dow closed in negative territory for the second successive day, its second lowest close for the year and the biggest single-day decline since Jan 3. All components of the 30-stock blue-chip index ended in the red. The index was down by 648.77 points at its intraday low.
The S&P 500 also closed the day with losses.The Technology Select Sector SPDR (XLK) and Industrials Select Sector SPDR (XLI) plunged 2.2% and 2%, respectively. Notably, all eleven sectors of the benchmark index closed in the red. Moreover, tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite also declined due to weak performance by trade-sensitive large-cap stocks. Both the S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite recorded their third lowest close this year.
Trade War Fear Reignites
After the closing bell on May 6, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer told reporters that the U.S. government will increase tariff rate from 10% to 25% on $200 billion of Chinese exports effective May 10. His comments diminished hopes of market participants that the May 5 tweet of President Trump threating China for higher tariffs was just a negotiating tactic. Moreover, Trump also threatened to impose 25% tariff on additional $325 billion of Chinese goods.
U.S. officials accuse China of “erosion of commitments” and said China is backtracking on promises which it made during the negotiation process. U.S. officials are worried about a change in tone of Chinese delegations over the weekend. The United Statesblamed China of retracting from clear commitments on key issues which has the potential to damage trade negotiations.
However, Chinese vice premier Liu He will still lead a smaller Chinese delegation instead of a 100-member strong China team to Washington later this week. The U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the Trump administrationwould reconsider fresh duties if talks get back on track. Notably, an agreement was expected to be sealed by the end of this week.
Following the escalation of U.S.-China trade conflict, shares of major trade-sensitive stocks such as Caterpillar Inc. CAT, Deere & Company DE and Apple Inc. AAPL plummeted 2.3%, 1.5% and 2.7%, respectively. All three stocks carry a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.
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