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U.S.-China trade fight leads stocks lower, oil sinks on supply fears

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06/15/2018 | 11:24pm CET
Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE)

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Wall Street ended lower on Friday and global stocks continued to slide after U.S. President Donald Trump announced new tariffs on Chinese goods, while oil plummeted 3 percent on expectations that Saudi Arabia and Russia output would soon increase.

Trump announced hefty tariffs on $50 billion of Chinese imports starting on July 6, with Beijing immediately vowing to respond in kind, intensifying fears of a growing trade war between the world's two biggest economies.

Trump unveiled a 25 percent tariff on a list of strategically important imports from China, including cars, promising further measures if Beijing struck back.

"Investors are worried that with the trade war escalating, today it's better to sell out... and take profits," said Michael O’Rourke, chief market strategist at JonesTrading in Greenwich, Connecticut.

MSCI's gauge of stocks across the globe shed 0.48 percent, while the pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index lost 1.00 percent.

Emerging market stocks were hit particularly hard, tumbling 1.06 percent, a move maybe attributable as much to a strong dollar as to trade tensions.

In commodities, soybeans sank as the U.S.-China trade spat threatened shipments to the world's biggest buyer of the oilseed. Soybean futures fell 2.5 percent, hitting their lowest level since June 23 of last year. ICE cotton futures also dropped on the day.

Trump's decision on tariffs comes a day after stock markets rallied on the European Central Bank's decision to hold off on raising rates at least until the middle of next year.

By the close of U.S. markets, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 84.83 points, or 0.34 percent, to 25,090.48, the S&P 500 lost 3.07 points, or 0.11 percent, to 2,779.42 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 14.66 points, or 0.19 percent, to 7,746.38.

The outbreak of a global trade war has been the most frequently cited "biggest tail risk" by investors this year in Bank of America Merrill Lynch's monthly survey of global fund managers, on the back of ramped up protectionist rhetoric and measures by the U.S. administration.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan closed 0.65 percent lower, with Chinese stocks leading the losses.

(GRAPHIC: World shares set for weekly loss:


World oil markets cratered on fears of increased supply, with U.S. Crude on track for its biggest decline since May 15, and to end the week down 1.3 percent. Brent was headed for a 4 percent loss on the week.

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries is slated to meet next week in Vienna, with two of the biggest producers - Saudi Arabia and Russia - indicating they were prepared to increase output.

"Everyone is talking about raising production - the only question is by how much," said Bob Yawger, director, energy at Mizuho in New York.

U.S. crude settled at $65.06 per barrel, down 2.74 percent, and Brent crude was last at $73.44, down 3.29 percent.

In currencies, the U.S. dollar slipped against the safe-haven yen in the wake of the announced tariffs, while the dollar index, which measures the greenback against six currencies, rose 0.01 percent.

The euro, which on Thursday suffered its biggest fall against the dollar in two years after the ECB's interest rate decision, rose up 0.35 percent to $1.1607.

Trade fears drove demand for safe government bonds, causing U.S. Treasury yields to fall to their lowest levels in a week. Benchmark 10-year notes last rose 7/32 in price to yield 2.9223 percent, from 2.946 percent late on Thursday.

The 30-year bond last rose 14/32 in price to yield 3.0434 percent, from 3.066 percent Thursday.

“You’ve seen a little bit of a risk-off trade, which is aiding in the Treasury rally,” said Justin Lederer, an interest rate strategist at Cantor Fitzgerald in New York.

(GRAPHIC: History of biggest 'tail risk' for markets from Bank
of America's monthly global fund manager survey:

(Additional reporting by Nick Brown, David Gaffen, Ritvik Carvalho, Jessica Resnick-Ault and Karen Brettell in New York; Editing by Bernadette Baum and Cynthia Osterman)

By Laila Kearney

Stocks mentioned in the article
ChangeLast1st jan.
DJ INDUSTRIAL -2.21% 24465.64 Delayed Quote.1.21%
NASDAQ 100 -1.75% 6526.9629 Delayed Quote.7.36%
NASDAQ COMP. -1.70% 6908.8231 Delayed Quote.4.99%
S&P 500 -1.82% 2641.89 Delayed Quote.0.64%
US DOLLAR INDEX 0.58% 96.75 End-of-day quote.5.33%
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