FILE- In this April 26, 2018, file photo, Vincent Pepe stands outside the New York Stock Exchange where he works in the Financial District in New York. The U.S. stock market opens at 9:30 a.m. EDT on Friday, June 15. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens, File)

US stocks sink with other markets as trade worries rise

June 15, 2018 - 10:53 am

NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. stocks fell with other markets around the world on Friday after the Trump administration stepped up the trade dispute between the world's two biggest economies by announcing tariffs on $50 billion of imports from China.

China almost immediately said it will retaliate with its own tariffs of the same scale, raising the possibility of an escalating trade war that could leave the global economy as collateral damage. Barriers to trade could result in higher prices at stores for all kinds of products purchased by U.S. consumers, weaker profits for companies and slower growth around the world.

Many economists see free trade as a boon for the global economy, making it more efficient and allowing companies to earn bigger profits, which in turn leads to higher stock prices. President Donald Trump, though, has railed against the deficits that the United States has with other countries as unfair.

Investors have been closely following the United States' trade disputes with its partners, and many had expected Trump to announce tariffs against Chinese imports. The hope is that they are merely a negotiating tool, used to craft sweeping trade deals rather than as ends to themselves.

KEEPING SCORE: The S&P 500 was down 13 points, or 0.5 percent, at 2,769, as of 10:50 a.m. Eastern time. If it holds there, the index will have lost all its gains for the week and lock in its first weekly loss in a month. Energy stocks had the biggest losses, hurt by a sharp drop in the price of oil.

The Dow Jones industrial average dropped 231 points, or 0.9 percent, to 24,948, and the Nasdaq composite sank 26, or 0.3 percent, to 7,734.

ANALYST'S TAKE: "Ultimately a negotiated solution is likely," said Shane Oliver, head of investment strategy at AMP Capital. But even though China and the U.S. probably want to negotiate, "the risks are high."

WORLD MARKETS: Stock markets in Europe and Asia were mostly down.

The DAX in Germany lost 0.5 percent, and the CAC 40 in France dipped 0.1 percent. In London, the FTSE 100 lost 1 percent. In Asia, South Korea's Kospi shed 0.8 percent, and the Hang Seng in Hong Kong fell 0.4 percent. Japan's Nikkei 225 index was an outlier and rose 0.5 percent.

YIELDS: Treasury yields fell for a second straight day, and the yield on the 10-year Treasury sank to 2.90 percent from 2.94 percent late Thursday. It has more than given up all its gains after the Federal Reserve indicated earlier in the week that two more interest-rate increases may be coming this year, which was a more aggressive path than some investors had expected.

The Fed has raised interest rates four times in the last year on the back of a growing economy. It is ahead of its other big counterparts around the world in getting conditions closer to normal after years of stimulus and record-low interest rates following the Great Recession.

The Bank of Japan said on Friday it would hold steady with its stimulus program. The European Central Bank, meanwhile, said on Thursday it would halt its bond-buying program after the end of the year, though it also pledged to hold off on rate increases through the summer of 2019.

OIL SLIDE: Benchmark U.S. crude fell $1.33 to $65.56 per barrel. Brent crude, the international standard, lost $1.73 to $74.21.

That helped drag energy in the S&P 500 down 1.6 percent for the largest loss among the 11 sectors that make up the index.

COMMODITIES: Gold dropped $21.70 to $1,286.60 per ounce, and silver fell 49 cents to $16.77 per ounce. The price of copper, which often moves with expectations for the strength of the economy, lost 5 cents, or 1.6 percent, to $3.17 per pound.

CURRENCIES: The dollar dipped to 110.55 Japanese yen from 110.57 yen late Thursday. The euro rose to $1.1616 from $1.1591, and the British pound fell to $1.3271 from $1.3281.

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AP Business Writer Youkyung Lee contributed from Seoul, South Korea.

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