Dow skids 160 points lower as retail sales disappoint and trade worries linger

U.S. stock indexes retreated Wednesday morning amid weaker-than-expected data on April retail sales, with investors’ reaction amplified by concerns about the state of U.S.-China tariff relations.

What are major indexes doing?

The Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, +0.13%   lost 160 points, or 0.6%, at 25,369, while the S&P 500 index SPX, +0.33%  declined 13 points, or 0.5%, to 2,821. The Nasdaq Composite index NQM9, +0.74%  was off 24 points to 7,711, a fall of 0.3%.

On Tuesday, the Dow finished 207.06 points higher, a gain of 0.8%, at 25,532.05, while the S&P 500 SPX, +0.33%  rose 22.54 points, or 0.8%, to 2,834.41. The Nasdaq Composite COMP, +0.75%  advanced 87.47 points, or 1.1%, to close at 7,734.49.

What’s driving the market?

Disappointing data on U.S. retail sales have helped to reinforce jitters about slowing domestic growth, amid fears over the frayed relationship between Beijing and Washington that escalated last week after the Trump administration allowed tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese goods to increase to 25% from 10% and prepared further duties on a range of other goods.

Opinion: Washington and Wall Street wake up to the reality that Beijing is happy to walk away

Retail sales figures for April showed that U.S. retailers are seeing decelerating purchases for a second time in three months, declining 0.2% last month, compared with expectations for a 0.1% increase, per a MarketWatch poll of economists. Excluding autos, retail sales were flat for the month, versus expectations for 0.7% growth.

Though the letup follows a surprisingly strong 1.7% surge in retail sales in March, the broader trend in consumer spending reflects a slowing economy, despite a health labor market.

President Donald Trump on Tuesday appeared to soften his rhetoric around trade, calling the dispute a “squabble” and repeating expectations for a positive meeting with Chinese leader

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