Stock markets sell off as trade war fears grow


Stock markets took a tumble Monday after China raised import duties on U.S. pork, apples and other products. It’s too soon to call it the beginning of a trade war, but for now, investors aren’t sticking around to find out.

Formerly high-flying technology companies like Microsoft, Facebook, Amazon and Alphabet fell. Intel dove 5.7 per cent following a report in Bloomberg News that Apple plans to start using its own chips in Mac computers as early as 2020, replacing Intel.

Amazon sank following more broadsides from U.S. President Donald Trump on Twitter, and electric car marker Tesla gave back 4.4 per cent after saying the vehicle in a fatal crash last week in California was operating on autopilot mode, making it the latest accident to involve a semi-autonomous vehicle.

The major U.S. indexes were all sharply lower when stock markets closed, even after having rebounded from even deeper lows earlier. 

“Markets fell out of bed to start the new week and the new quarter,” said Colin Ciezynski, chief market strategist with SIA Wealth Management, in an interview with CBC News after markets closed.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 index was down 59 points, or 2.62 per cent, to 2,581. That’s the lowest level for the S&P since October.

The Dow Jones industrial average lost 461 points, or almost two per cent, to 23,641. It was down as much as 758 earlier.

The technology focused Nasdaq composite slumped 193 points, or 2.7 per cent, to 6,870. 

In Canada, the TSX fared better, down just 153 points or one per cent to 15,213. “Potential for disruption is continuing to weigh on the stocks,” Ciezynski said of trade war fears, “and those are things that are harder to ignore over time.”

Kate Warne, an investment strategist for Edward Jones, blamed China for much of Monday’s fears, calling the tariff move small but significant.

“The fact that a country has actually raised tariffs in retaliation is an important step in the wrong direction,” she said. “The tariffs imposed by China today lead to greater worries that we will see escalating tariffs and the possibility of a much bigger impact than investors were anticipating last week. And that could be true for Mexico as well as for China.”

Food maker Tyson dropped 6.3 per cent after China raised import duties on a $3 billion US list of U.S. goods in response to the tariffs on imported steel and aluminum that President Trump ordered last month.

Other recent market leaders like industrial giant Boeing and streaming video service Netflix also slumped.

After a month of public negotiations between the U.S. and several other countries, Monday marked the first time another country has formally placed tariffs on U.S. goods in response to the Trump administration’s recent trade sanctions.

Amazon fell another $70.84 US, or 4.9 per cent, to $1,376.50 US. After peaking at almost $1,600 US a share last month, Amazon has slumped with the market recently. Despite its recent losses, Amazon stock is still up about 18 per cent in 2018.

Microsoft dropped $2.97 US, or 3.3 per cent, to $88.30 US and Google’s parent company, Alphabet, shed $31.13 US, or 3 per cent, to $1,006.01 US. Boeing slid $8.25 US, or 2.5 per cent, to $319.63 US

The price of gold climbed 1.2 per cent to $1,343.60 US an ounce and silver jumped two per cent to $16.60 US an ounce as some investors took money out of stocks and looked for safer investments.

The U.S. oil price lost $1.93 US, or three per cent, to $63.01 a barrel in New York.

The Canadian dollar, meanwhile, was off by about a quarter of a cent to 77.38 when stock markets closed on Monday.


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