U.S. stocks close lower amid trade tensions, downbeat data

Updated 2018-04-07 10:44:14 Xinhua

A trader watches a news report at the New York Stock Exchange in New York, the United States, on April 6, 2018. (Xinhua/Wang Ying)

U.S. stocks ended lower on Friday, with the Dow once plunging over 700 points, as escalating trade tensions between China and the United States weighed on the market.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average erased 572.46 points, or 2.34 percent, to 23,932.76. The S&P 500 decreased 58.38 points, or 2.19 percent, to 2,604.46. The Nasdaq Composite Index was down 161.44 points, or 2.28 percent, to 6,915.11.

The VIX Index, which measures the market's expectation of future volatility, surged 13.09 to 21.42 in late trading.

U.S. President Donald Trump on Thursday said he has asked the U.S. Trade Representative to consider slapping 100 billion U.S. dollars of additional tariffs on China, ratcheting up trade tensions and plunging economic growth into uncertainty.

China will fight "at any cost" and take "comprehensive countermeasures" if the United States continues its unilateral, protectionist practices, a spokesperson with the Chinese Ministry of Commerce said Friday.

The moves came after both sides earlier this week unveiled a list of products worth 50 billion U.S. dollars imported from the other side that will be subject to higher tariffs.

Investors also paid close attention to the latest speech of Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell, who said on Friday that the central bank will likely need to keep raising interest rates to keep inflation under control.

"U.S. stocks came under pressure as higher U.S. interest rates and escalating trade tariffs were combined with weakness in historical market leaders Amazon, Tesla and Facebook," Brendan Ahern, Chief Investment Officer, Krane Funds Advisors, LLC, told Xinhua.

The disappointing nonfarm jobs report also dented investor sentiment. U.S. total nonfarm payroll employment edged up by 103,000 in March, way below market consensus of an increase of 193,000 jobs, the U.S. Labor Department said on Friday. The unemployment rate was unchanged at 4.1 percent in March.

In other markets, the U.S. dollar fell against most other major currencies in late trading on Friday.

The dollar index, which measures the greenback against six major peers, decreased 0.39 percent at 90.106 in late trading.

Meanwhile, oil prices also tumbled on Friday as trade tensions between China and the United States dented investor sentiment.

The West Texas Intermediate for May delivery dropped 1.48 U.S. dollars to settle at 62.06 dollars a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, while Brent crude for June delivery lost 1.22 dollars to close at 67.11 dollars a barrel on the London ICE Futures Exchange.

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