US stocks tumbled early Thursday ahead of an expected announcement of harsh import sanctions on China by President Donald Trump that has revived fears of a trade war. About 35 minutes into trading, the Dow Jones Industrial Average had fallen 1.0 percent to 24,244.62. The broad-based S&P 500 dropped 0.9 percent to 2,687.30, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index shed 0.9 percent to 7,281.15. Trump was expected to announce actions around midday Thursday in response to alleged Chinese theft of US intellectual property.
China has vowed to “defends its legitimate rights and interests.” “Vulnerable! That is our word of the day. It is also our warning to those who propose taking on China in a trade war,” said a note from High Frequency Economics that warned of a trade war. Multinationals that rely heavily on China were among the bigger losers. Boeing and Caterpillar fell more than two percent, while General Motors shed 1.1 percent.
Analysts said other factors also played a role in the stock pullback, including residual unease after the Federal Reserve raised interest rates on Wednesday and a drop in oil prices that led to a fall in petroleum-linked equities. Large technology companies also retreated after analysts largely panned Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg’s response to a data scandal involving data consultant Cambridge Analytica. Facebook dropped 0.7 percent. Apple, Amazon and Google parent Alphabet all fell about one percent or more.