Wall Street Rout Worsens as China Hits Back on Trade

China's finance ministry said on Monday it planned to impose tariffs ranging from 5 per cent to 25 per cent on 5,140 U.S. products on a target list worth about $60 billion from June 1, striking back after the United States raised duties last week.

U.S. stock markets fell more than 2 per cent on Monday after China announced retaliatory tariffs on U.S. goods, heightening fears of a full-blown trade war between the world's two largest economies that could cripple global economic growth.

At the heart of the sell-off were shares in major technology companies including Apple Inc as well as chipmakers, manufacturers and retailers that draw large chunks of their revenue from China.

Apple's shares fell 5.2 per cent, putting the S&P and the Dow on track for their biggest one-day percentage drop since January 3.

The sell-off that began with stocks surfing at an all-time high on May 1 has now knocked almost 5 per cent off the S&P 500 in less than two weeks.

That still compares favourably with a 20 per cent fall between Oct.3 and Christmas of last year, but it has traders again talking about the end of a decade-long rally that dates back to the aftermath of the 2008 financial crash.

The front part of the U.S. interest rate yield curve, running from three-month U.S. Treasury bills through to 10-year notes, inverted for the second time in less than a week and is seen as a classic signal that a recession is coming.

 “Investors are trying to figure out how much of the rally that we had this year was perhaps celebrating prematurely hopes of a trade deal.”

Bank of America Merrill analysts said the new Chinese tariffs posed a downside risk of between 1 per cent and 3 per cent for S&P 500 company earnings in 2019.

The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq hit record highs just two weeks ago on hopes of a trade deal and a positive first-quarter earnings season. Last week's 2.2 per cent fall was the worst for the benchmark index since December.

Tariff-sensitive Boeing Co declined 3.6 per cent and Caterpillar Inc dipped 4.9 per cent.

The Philadelphia chip index was down 4.2 per cent, adding to a 6 per cent decline last week. Qualcomm Inc, Broadcom Inc and Nvidia Corp all fell between 3 per cent and 4.4 per cent.

That left the Dow Jones Industrial Average down 586.00 points, or 2.26 per cent, at 25,356.37 by 11:22 a.m. ET. The S&P 500 fell 65.48 points, or 2.27 per cent, to 2,815.92 and the Nasdaq Composite 241.62 points, or 3.05 per cent, to 7,675.32.

Shares of Uber Technologies Inc dropped 9 per cent, more than doubling their losses since the ride-hailing giant's poorly received Wall Street debut on Friday.

Banks, which suffer from the fall in long-term rates below short-term funding costs, fell 2.7 per cent.