U.S. stocks fall sharply as U.S.-China trade war escalates
Stocks tumbled on Wall Street after President Donald Trump demanded that U.S. companies with operations in China consider moving them to other countries — including the U.S. — just hours after Beijing announced new tariffs on $75 billion in U.S. goods.
Trump also said he would respond to Beijing’s latest tariff increase later Friday.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average sank about 600 points after the president made the announcements on Twitter.
Trump also said he was “ordering” UPS, Federal Express and Amazon to block any deliveries from China of the powerful opioid drug fentanyl. The stocks of all three companies fell as traders tried to understand what the implications for them were.
The developments mark the latest escalation of an ongoing trade dispute. The U.S. has said it would impose 10% duties on the $300 billion of Chinese goods that were not already subject to tariffs in two steps, On Sept. 1 and Dec. 15. Early Friday China said it would retaliate with taxes on $75 billion of U.S. products along the same timeframe.
The broad sell-off wiped out all the market’s gains this week, placing the S&P 500 on track for its fourth straight weekly loss. The benchmark index is down 4.1% for the month.
The S&P 500 was down 2.5% as of 3:30 p.m. Eastern Time. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 598 points, or 2.3%, to 25,653. The Nasdaq dropped 2.9%.
The market opened lower with the news of the new tariffs. It recovered a bit after a widely anticipated speech by Jerome Powell where the chairman of the Federal Reserve gave no clear signal on when the central bank may cut interest rates again after a small cut last month.
Speaking at a Fed policy conference in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, Powell noted that there’s growing evidence of a global economic slowdown and suggested that uncertainty over Trump’s trade wars have complicated the central bank’s ability to set interest rate policy. Powell said the Fed “will act as appropriate to sustain the expansion.”
Some economists saw Powell’s speech as setting the stage for further interest rate cuts this year. A quarter-point rate cut reduction in September is considered all but certain. Some think the Fed will cut rates again in December.
Markets have been jumpy for weeks as traders increasingly worry about a protracted trade war and whether it could tip the already fragile global economy into recession.
“There’s been reason to be concerned that this might not get resolved anytime soon, but the market is accepting that not only is it not likely, it’s very unlikely,” said Randy Frederick, vice president of trading and derivatives at Charles Schwab.
On Friday, Trump tweeted that U.S. companies “are hereby ordered to immediately start looking for an alternative to China.” He added that he would be responding to China’s tariffs “this afternoon.”
Technology companies, which have much to lose in the trade battle, bore the brunt of the sell-off. Apple slid 4.5% and Microsoft gave up 2.9%. Chipmaker Nvidia dropped 4.6%.
Companies that rely on consumer spending also took losses. Retailer L Brands plunged 8.9%.
Energy stocks headed lower along with crude oil prices. The price of crude sank 3.2% to $53.59 a barrel as traders worried that the latest escalation in the trade battle could sap global demand for energy.
U.S. bond prices rose sharply as investors sought safety, sending yields lower. The yield on the 10-year Treasury fell to 1.53% from 1.61%, a large move. Banks fell as lower yields can translate to a decline in the interest rate that lenders charge for mortgages and other consumer loans. JPMorgan Chase and Citigroup each slid 2.5%.
The price of gold, another safehaven for investors during times of market turbulence and economic weakness, rose 1.9% to $1,537.60 an ounce.
The Trump administration has imposed a 25% tariff on $250 billion in Chinese imports. The pending 10% tariff on another $300 billion in goods would hit everything from toys to clothing and shoes that China ships to the United States, however some 60% of the new tariffs wouldn’t go into effect until mid-December, and others were taken off the table altogether.
China gave no details of what goods would be affected in its latest round of tariffs, but the timing matches Trump’s planned duty hikes.
China’s government appealed to Trump this week to compromise in order to break a deadlock in negotiations.
Salmon harvest booms in California
SAN FRANCISCO — Trolling off the California coast, Sarah Bates leans over the side of her boat and pulls out a long, silvery fish prized by anglers and seafood lovers: wild king salmon.
Reeling in a fish “feels good every time,” but this year has been surprisingly good, said Bates, a commercial troller based in San Francisco.
She and other California fishermen are reporting one of the best salmon fishing seasons in years, thanks to heavy rain and snow that ended the state’s historic drought.
It’s a sharp reversal for chinook salmon, also known as king salmon, an iconic species that helps sustain many Pacific Coast fishing communities.
Commercial salmon catches have surpassed official preseason forecasts by about 50 percent, said Kandice Morgenstern, a marine scientist with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. Harvests have been particularly strong in Morro Bay, Monterey and San Francisco, but weaker along California’s northern coast.
“We’re really surprised to be seeing this many fish being landed so far this season,” Morgenstern said.
The salmon rebound comes after three years of extremely low catches that resulted from poor ocean conditions and California’s five-year drought, which drained the state’s rivers and reservoirs.
Over the past several years, regulators imposed severe fishing restrictions to protect chinook salmon, and officials declared federal fishery disasters in 2018 to assist fishing communities in California, Oregon and Washington.
This year’s adult salmon are the first class to benefit from record rainfall that filled California rivers and streams in early 2017, making it easier for juvenile chinook to migrate to the Pacific Ocean, where they grow into full-size fish.
Chinook salmon are also being helped by improved ocean conditions that have produced an abundance of anchovies, krill and other feed. Several years ago, an El Nino event brought unusually warm water to the Pacific Coast and disrupted the marine ecosystem.
“For the salmon fishermen who’ve been dealing with disaster for so long, this is an incredible boon to their livelihoods,” said Noah Oppenheim, who heads the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations.
Anglers in the Pacific Northwest have not been so fortunate. A dearth of chinook returning to the Columbia River and Puget Sound are a major factor in the plummeting population of the region’s endangered killer whales.
“The forecast of poor chinook returns to Western Washington is proving accurate, but it’s still very early in the season,” said Lorraine Loomis, Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission chair.
In Alaska, state wildlife officials who oversee salmon are monitoring reports of fish dying in warm rivers. The state in July recorded its warmest month, and heat stress is suspected in the deaths of pink and chum salmon in rivers that empty into the Bering Sea, including the Yukon and Kuskokwim rivers.Bit of good news
California’s strong salmon season, which typically runs from May to October, offers some positive environmental news at a time of growing anxiety about climate change. A United Nations report released this month warns that global warming threatens food supplies worldwide.
Morgenstern says climate change is creating greater fluctuations in ocean and river conditions, making chinook fisheries “less stable, less predictable and more challenging for fishery managers.”
Most of the chinook salmon now being caught in California come from the Sacramento River and its tributaries, where they spawn. Many were raised in state-run hatcheries then released into rivers to swim to the ocean. Harvests of chinook from rivers farther north have not been strong.
For consumers, the bountiful harvest has driven down wild salmon prices to $15 to $20 per pound, compared with $30 to $35 per pound in recent years. Fishermen are making up for the difference by catching more fish.
“The market is dictating right now that there’s a lot of salmon, so the customers don’t have to pay as much,” said Gordon Drysdale, culinary director at Scoma’s, a seafood restaurant at Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco.
The wharf is one of many California fishing communities benefiting from the salmon boom. Pier 45, where boats unload their fish, hasn’t been this busy in many years, said Larry Collins, who runs the San Francisco Community Fishing Association.
“This year started out with a bang, and it’s just kept banging the whole time,” Collins said. “We’re all really excited and happy the fish showed up.”
On a recent morning, commercial fisherman Brand Little, who sells to customers in the Lake Tahoe area, returned from four days of fishing with nearly 200 salmon weighing more than 2,000 pounds.
“Best trip of the season,” Little said. “It’s been a long time coming.”
The salmon boom is also welcomed by sport fishermen and the boat operators who take them out to the ocean.
“When the fish are biting, it’s always good for business for us,” said Mike Rescino, who runs a charter boat. “When the people see the big reports, they’re going to come out and go fishing with us.”
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