Investing.com - Wall Street traded lower on Tuesday, with the Dow falling by over a hundred points for the second straight day, as markets worried that neither the U.S. nor China would back down in order to reach an agreement in their current trade dispute.
The Dow Jones fell 190 points, or 1.5%, at 26,248.66 points by 9:38 AM ET (13:38 GMT), the S&P 500 lost 23 points, or 0.8%, to 2,909.90 points, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite traded down 65 points, or 0.8%, at 8,057.83 points.
“The Chinese public wants an agreement, but meanwhile is well prepared for other potential outcomes, including a temporary breakdown in talks,” said an editorial in the Global Times, an English-language publication that regularly serves as a mouthpiece for official Chinese foreign policy.
The comments came after U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer confirmed that the U.S. will raise tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese imports from 10% to 25% as of Friday, a step that sharply escalates the trade dispute between the two countries after months of talks that appeared to be making progress in avoiding such an outcome.
Many analysts commented that both sides may only be posturing ahead of the high-level trade talks between Lighthizer, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Chinese Vice Premier Liu He scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday.
But the determination of both sides not to “flinch first” has markets concerned that the increased tariffs will come into force.
“It’s imperative that trade tensions are resolved in a way satisfying for everyone because clearly tensions between the United States and China are the threat to the global economy,” Reuters quoted International Monetary Fund managing director Christine Lagarde as saying in Paris on the sidelines of a meeting with the French government.
Markets want trade “results”, Investing.com analyst Pinchas Cohen said.
Cohen warned of further volatility ahead, noting that "CBOE contracts speculating on market volatility spiked to levels not seen since late January, closing at the highest levels since late March."
The health sector did little to reassure investor sentiment in early trading, with Allergan (NYSE:AGN), Mylan (NASDAQ:MYL) and Regeneron (NASDAQ:REGN) all trading sharply lower.
Insurer AIG (NYSE:AIG) was a notable outlier with shares soaring nearly 8% after it recorded its first underwriting profit since the financial crisis, smashing expectations with its first-quarter results.
Outside of equities, the U.S. dollar index, which measures the greenback against six rival currencies, gained 0.2% to 97.44 by 9:40 AM ET (13:40 GMT), while the yield on the 10-year Treasury dropped 3 basis points to 2.47%.
In commodities, gold futures dipped $1.10, or 0.1%, to $1,282.75 a troy ounce, while crude oil traded down 92 cents, or 1.5% at $61.33 a barrel.