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Dow Reverses Sharply After Trump Tariff News Rocks Stock Market

Last Updated March 4, 2021 2:40 PM
Francois Aure
Last Updated March 4, 2021 2:40 PM
  • An unexpected report on U.S. tariffs smacked the Dow off its record high above 29,000.
  • The outlook for U.S.-China trade negotiations suddenly looks less clear on the eve of the “phase one” signing ceremony.
  • A soft CPI release hints at a worrying trend in U.S. macro data.

The Dow Jones shot to a record high above 29,000 on Tuesday, fueled by a strong rally in Boeing (NYSE: BA). But the rally failed to hold after a report that tariffs on China will remain throughout the 2020 election  hammered the stock market.

On the macro front, a softer CPI print has ING concerned that U.S. inflation highlights a worrying trend in GDP growth prospects.

Dow Jones Lurches to The Downside on Trump Tariff Report

Among the three major U.S. stock market indices , the Dow Jones Industrial Average was the leader, clinging to gains of 8.72 points or 0.03% to hold at 28,915.77.

The S&P 500 and Nasdaq fell from Monday’s record highs, sliding 0.23% and 0.28%.

Dow Jones, Dow 30, stock market, Donald Trump, China, Bloomberg, Tariffs.
The Dow was blindsided by reports that Trump would keep $250 billion of tariffs on China throughout 2020. | Source: Yahoo Finance 

The price of gold moved higher in the afternoon session, paring its losses as investors digested the latest trade war developments. Crude oil advanced 0.33%, while bitcoin soared an astonishing 7% to $8,700.

Details about Donald Trump’s phase one deal with China were revealed today, creating choppy conditions in early trade. While much effort has been made to ensure the headline $200 billion figure is as eye-catching as possible, plenty of uncertainty remains.

There are some alarmingly loose provisions. Given China’s history of ignoring concrete international laws , Beijing is unlikely to adhere to optional ones.

This may be what spooked stock market bulls. Combine it with the tariffs that Trump is holding in his pocket, and the risk of China breaking the initial agreement increases substantially.

Soft U.S. CPI Hints at Worrying Trend

On the data front, new CPI data paint a murky outlook for the Dow Jones. Subdued inflation suggests the Federal Reserve will maintain loose monetary policy, but it also hints at inherent weakness in the labor market, which powers U.S. consumer spending habits.

Economist James Knightley at ING believes that something doesn’t add up when you compare the supposedly-tight jobs market to sagging wages. He says spending is still feeling the pinch and may weigh on U.S. growth prospects this year:

US inflation was a touch softer than expected in December, but with headline and core CPI still running at 2.3% year-on-year, and wage growth having moderated to 2.9%, there is a squeeze on household spending power. This will likely limit the upside in consumer spending and GDP growth this year.

Dow Stock: Apple Takes a Breather, Boeing Buoyed by New CEO

The Dow 30 was able to cling to slight gains , largely thanks to a 0.75% bounce in Boeing (NYSE: BA) stock. The index’s most heavily-weighted stock appeared to enjoy its new CEO’s forceful statements about improving the company .

It was a rare down day for Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL), which gave up 1.2% on a soft day for the tech sector but is still up a Dow-leading 7% on the year.

Investment banks J.P. Morgan Chase and Goldman Sachs both bounced, with JPM’s 1.2% gain headlining the DJIA after its earnings revealed healthy trading profits .