Wall Street falls hard again on roller-coaster day, after report that US is planning new tariffs on China

  • The Dow had been up about 350 points in morning trade, before tanking on the tariff story and closing down 245 points, or 1 per cent
PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 30 October, 2018, 5:10am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 30 October, 2018, 10:45am

Fear that the Trump administration will announce tariffs on all remaining imports from China helped knock US stocks from a strong early gain to another sharp loss Monday.

Technology companies sank again after Bloomberg News reported that the US is planning new tariffs if the two sides don’t make progress in trade talks next month.

Technology and internet companies, industrials and retailers took steep losses as Wall Street’s recent bout of volatility continued. The S&P 500 index has dropped 9.4 per cent in October and is on track for its worst monthly loss since February 2009. That was right before the market hit its lowest point during the 2008-09 financial crisis.

Bloomberg News reported that the Trump administration will put tariffs on the rest of the country’s imports from China if presidents Donald Trump and Xi Jinping don’t make substantial progress in easing the trade dispute next month.

US ‘to slap tariffs on all Chinese imports’ if Trump-Xi meeting fails

So far the US has so far placed US$250 billion in taxes on imported Chinese goods, about half of all imports from China, and the taxes on most of those goods are set to rise on January 1. The administration has threatened tariffs on the rest. China hiked tariffs on US$110 billion in imports from the US.

The S&P 500 index fell 17.44 points on Monday, or 0.7 per cent, to 2,641.25.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained as much as 352 points Monday morning but closed down 245.39 points, or 1 per cent, to 24,442.92. It fell as much as 566 during the roller-coaster day.

The Nasdaq composite, which is heavily weighted with technology stocks, lost 116.92 points, or 1.6 per cent, to 7,050.29. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks gave up 6.51 points, or 0.4 per cent, to 1,447.31.

Stocks have plunged since early October and trading has been especially volatile the last few days.

Among industrials, Boeing sank 6.6 per cent to US$335.59. Some early gains for tech and internet stocks also faded. Microsoft shed 2.9 per cent to US$103.85. Alphabet, Google’s parent company, lost 4.5 per cent to US$1,034.73.

China’s future rests on ‘mending fences with the United States’

Amazon.com dropped another 6.3 per cent to US$1,538.88. The online retailer tumbled Friday after it reported weak sales and gave a lower-than-expected revenue estimate for the quarter that includes the holiday shopping season. Its stock traded above US$2,000 a share in early September and has fallen 24.5 per cent since then, its worst decline in two and a half years.

The S&P 500, the main benchmark for the US stock market, has fallen 9.9 per cent from its latest record high on September 20. The Nasdaq has plunged 13 per cent from its record high reached August 29.

For most of this year investors have remained hopeful that the US and China would work out there disagreements on trade, but in recent weeks they’ve lost some of their confidence.

Increased tariffs could slow economic growth and increase inflation. The effects could be especially severe for technology companies, which make many of their products in China, and for industrials.