US stocks fell on Wednesday, breaking a four-session streak of gains after Washington’s threat to impose tariffs on an additional $200 billion worth of Chinese goods fanned trade war fears, while a sharp drop in oil prices hit energy shares.
China responded to US President Donald Trump’s threats by accusing the United States of bullying and warned that it would hit back.
Industrial names including Boeing, 3M and Caterpillar, which have been among the hardest hit by the recent trade dispute, were among the Dow’s biggest drags.
Materials, down 1.7 per cent, was another big negative influence on the market, with Freeport-McMoRan down 3.9 per cent as copper prices hit their lowest in about a year.
Investors said trade war worries may slip to the background as investors begin to focus more closely on second-quarter earnings over the coming weeks. Results from JPMorgan Chase and other big banks are due Friday.
“The trade situation is worrisome but nothing more is going to happen right away. This story may recede in people’s consciousness while current stories capture people’s interests, particularly earnings,” said John Carey, portfolio manager at Amundi Pioneer Asset Management in Boston.
“People are looking for some fairly strong earnings, and there’s certainly potential for disappointment.”
Analysts are forecasting S&P 500 companies’ earnings grew about 21 per cent in the second quarter from a year earlier, according to Thomson Reuters data.
Also pressuring the market Wednesday, the S&P 500 energy index fell 2.2 per cent, leading sector declines. US crude oil futures settled down 5 per cent on the trade dispute escalation and as expectations of growing supplies increased on news that Libya would reopen ports.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 219.21 points, or 0.88 per cent, to 24,700.45, the S&P 500 lost 19.82 points, or 0.71 per cent,