Wall Street’s jitters over escalating trade tensions spread to the technology sector Monday, sending stocks tumbling.
The Dow Jones industrial average fell for the ninth time in 10 days, and broader gauges also slumped, as investors feared high-tech companies could be dragged into the broadening trade dispute between the U.S. and China.
Tech stocks have been a pillar of the long-running bull market. But they were roiled Monday by reports that the Trump administration intends to limit exports of some high-tech products to China, and will also limit investment in technology firms by companies with substantial Chinese ownership.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin suggested the investment restrictions wouldn’t be limited to China and the market’s losses deepened. The Dow Jones Industrial Average at one point was down almost 500 points.
The trade-related downturn was not limited to high-tech socks. Harley-Davidson said it would move some production overseas to avoid tariffs the European Union is placing on motorcycles made in the U.S. Those tariffs were a response to taxes the U.S. placed on steel and aluminum from Europe. Its stock fell 6 percent to $41.57.
The market recovered from its lows after Peter Navarro, one of President Donald Trump’s top trade advisers, told CNBC there was no plan for investment restrictions and that the administration’s probe into alleged technology theft is limited to China.
“We hear one thing one hour and something that contradicts it the next hour or the next day,” said Randy Frederick, vice president of trading and derivatives for Charles Schwab. “Nobody knows what to think or what to believe. It makes it really tough to invest.”
All but one of the 72 technology companies listed on the S&P 500 index fell Monday. Those companies have done far better than the broader market over the last year and a half and investors had considered them to be less vulnerable to tariffs than other sectors like manufacturing.
Taxes by the U.S. on tens of billions of dollars in imports from China, and retaliatory taxes by China on U.S. goods, are set to take effect in less than two weeks. While few investors expect a full-blown trade war, Frederick said talks appear to be going in the wrong direction.
“Every day you get closer to those particular dates it gets more worrisome,” he said. Frederick said that is likely to lead to more market volatility.
The S&P 500 index shed 37.81 points, or 1.4 percent, to 2,717.07, its worst loss since April 6. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 328.09 points, or 1.3 percent, to 24,252.80. The Nasdaq composite fell 160.81 points, or 2.1 percent, to 7,532.01. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks slid 28.07 points, or 1.7 percent, to 1,657.51.
China is attempting to become a global leader in biotechnology, electric vehicles and other industries, and the reports said the administration wants to slow Beijing’s progress in those areas. Trump has threatened to put tariffs on hundreds of billions of dollars in Chinese imports over complaints Beijing steals or pressures foreign companies to hand over technology. He’s also pressuring China to buy more U.S.-made goods.
Chipmaker Micron Technology, which gets half its revenue from China, lost 6.9 percent to $53.16 and Advanced Micro Devices fell 4.4 percent to $15.11. Nvidia sank 4.7 percent to $239.12.
Germany’s DAX fell 2.5 percent and London’s FTSE 100 gave up 2.2 percent. France’s CAC 40 shed 1.9 percent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng lost 1.3 percent. Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 shed 0.8 percent and in South Korea the Kospi was little changed.
Retailers and other companies focused on consumers fell as investors sold some of the stocks that have done the best this year. Amazon lost 3.1 percent to $1,663.15 and Netflix dropped 6.5 percent to $384.48.
The S&P 500 index of technology companies and the index of consumer-focused companies are both up 10 percent this year. The S&P 500 is up 1.6 percent.
Bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 2.87 percent from 2.89 percent.
Elsewhere, cruise lines dropped after Carnival cut its annual profit forecast. The company cited the rising cost of fuel. Carnival fell 7.9 percent to $58.54 and competitors Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruises also slumped.
Investors still responded positively to deal reports. Broadcaster Gray Television jumped 16 percent to $14.85 after it said it will combine with Raycom in a deal the companies valued at $3.6 billion. Campbell Soup rose 9.4 percent to $42.23 after the New York Post said Kraft Heinz is interested in buying the company. Kraft added 0.2 percent to $63.32.
Benchmark U.S. crude dipped 0.7 percent to $68.08 per barrel in New York. It climbed 4.6 percent Friday, its biggest one-day gain since late 2016. Brent crude, used to price international oils, dropped 1.1 percent to $74.73 per barrel in London.
OPEC countries agreed to produce more oil Friday, but investors aren’t sure the cartel will produce as much crude oil as it says it will.
Wholesale gasoline lost 0.9 percent to $2.05 a gallon. Heating oil fell 1.2 percent to $2.10 a gallon. Natural gas dipped 0.7 percent to $2.92 per 1,000 cubic feet.
Gold fell 0.1 percent to $1,268.90 an ounce. Silver lost 0.8 percent to $16.33 an ounce. Copper fell 1.3 percent to $2.99 a pound.
The dollar fell to 109.45 yen from 109.91 yen. The euro rose to $1.1704 from $1.1663.
Source: Associated Press