US stocks slide as evidence of slowdown fueled by Trump trade war mounts

Stocks in energy, financial and industrial companies hit hardest in worst drop since August on Wednesday

Amie Tsang,Matt Phillips
Thursday 03 October 2019 15:13
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The S&P 500 index fell 1.8% on Wednesday
The S&P 500 index fell 1.8% on Wednesday

For much of the last year, America’s trade war was the rest of the world’s problem.

Even as growth slowed in China, Japan and Germany, the US economy held up and stocks on Wall Street remained close to records.

Now, investors are facing evidence that tensions between Washington and Beijing are chipping away at America’s factories. That has sent stocks tumbling and raised the stakes for the next round of talks between the leaders of China and the United States, the world’s two largest economies.

Stocks slid on Wednesday for the second straight day, with the S&P 500 falling 1.8 per cent in its worst drop since late August.

Sectors of the market most exposed to the economy — energy, financial and industrial companies — all fell sharply. Technology stocks that have been particularly sensitive to developments in the trade war slumped, as did shares of chemical companies and fertiliser manufacturers.

Crude oil prices and yields on government bonds also dropped, reflecting concerns about growth.

The selling this week began Tuesday, after a report showed that US factory output in September had fallen to levels last seen at the end of the financial crisis a decade ago.

The data was a fresh indication of the trade war’s creeping impact on the US economy.

Even though both Washington and Beijing have taken small measures to ease their tensions, investors remain eager to see a lasting breakthrough in the next round of talks.

Representatives from China and the United States are expected to restart high-level negotiations in Washington late next week.

“This is the markets unequivocally insisting that there be verifiable, material progress in next week’s trade talks,” said Julian Emanuel, chief equity and derivatives strategist at the brokerage firm BTIG.

Because it is less dependent on manufacturing, the United States is less exposed to trade wars than other large economies. But it is not immune. In the second quarter, business investment fell, with analysts, in part, blaming uncertainty related to the trade war.

“There’s no question that the global economy is slowing and that’s beginning to show up in US data,” said Scott Clemons, chief investment strategist at private bank Brown Brothers Harriman.

The New York Times

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