US stocks fall as Trump trade moves sow unease

Wall Street on Dec3 A stock trader works at the New York Stock Exchange. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

NEW YORK: Wall Street stocks fell on Tuesday (Dec 3) as the latest aggressive manoeuvres by US President Donald Trump on trade sparked worry of worsening conflict.

In London for a NATO summit, Trump said a resolution to the grinding China trade dispute might wait until after next November’s US elections, comments that raised questions about a preliminary agreement announced in October, while new levies are scheduled to take effect this month.

Trump’s administration this week has also announced new measures on France, Argentina and Brazil.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended at 27,502.81, down 280.23 points (1.01 per cent), its third straight decline after hitting a record last Wednesday.

The broad-based S&P 500 shed 20.67 points (0.66 per cent), closing at 3,093.20, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index dropped 47.34 points (0.55 per cent) to 8,520.65.

Karl Haeling, head of capital markets sales at LBBW, said the pullback partly reflected a natural retreat after a buoyant October and November.

But he said investors were unnerved by Trump’s justification of tariffs against Brazil and Argentina, in which he said the countries intentionally devalued their currencies.

“The bottom line is that you’ve opened up a ton of reasons why (Trump) could just start escalating the tariffs,” Haeling said.

The comments on trade also shifted attention from data showing a strong start to the holiday shopping season.

The National Retail Federation said that in the five days from Thanksgiving Day through “Cyber Monday” shoppers spent an average of US$361.90, up 16 per cent from the year-ago period, an “outstanding” performance, according to NRF chief Matthew Shay.

Still, several retail shares were lower, including Macy’s, which dropped 3.5 per cent, Best Buy, which fell 1.4 per cent and Gap, which shed three per cent.

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