Stocks fell broadly on Wall Street Friday as investor jitters over the heated trade war between the world’s two biggest economies overshadowed encouraging developments in conflicts between the U.S. and other key trading partners.
The sell-off gained strength in the last hour of trading, handing the benchmark S&P 500 index its second straight weekly loss.
News that the U.S. reached a deal with Canada and Mexico to scrap tariffs imposed by the Trump administration last year on imported steel and aluminum failed to cheer up investors. Nor did word earlier in the day that President Donald Trump has delayed for six months a decision on taxing imported cars and auto parts as trade negotiations continue with the European Union and Japan.
Those developments took a back seat to growing uncertainty over how Washington and Beijing will resolve their costly trade dispute, which has escalated the past two weeks. On Friday, published reports noted that Chinese state media was sending signals that appeared to dim the prospects for progress in the next round of negotiations.
“You had the good news in the delay in the auto tariffs, but the bad news is it’s going to be a long slog with high tariffs on China,” said Tom Martin, senior portfolio manager with Globalt Investments.
The S&P 500 fell 16.79 points, or 0.6%, to 2,859.53. Earlier in the day, it had been down as much as 0.8% and up as much as 0.3%. After all its tumbling around the last two weeks, the index remains 2.9% below the record it set last month.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 98.68 points, or 0.4%, to 25,764. It slid 204 points earlier in the day. The Nasdaq composite dropped 81.76, or 1%, to 7,816.28. The Russell 2000 index of small company stocks gave up 21.48 points, or 1.4%, to 1,535.76.
Over the last week, the S&P 500 followed up its second worst day of the year with three straight gains, only to falter Friday.