Stocks tumble in volatile trading amid fear of trade war

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March 22, 2018

Stocks fell sharply Thursday as tech shares declined. Stocks were also pressured by worries of a potential trade war.

The Dow was down more than 400 points after tumbling nearly 500 points earlier, with Caterpillar and Boeing the biggest decliners. The S&P 500 fell 1.5 percent, with tech dropping 1 percent. The Nasdaq slumped 1.4 percent.

March 22, 2018

Stocks fell sharply Thursday as tech shares declined. Stocks were also pressured by worries of a potential trade war.

The Dow was down more than 400 points after tumbling nearly 500 points earlier, with Caterpillar and Boeing the biggest decliners. The S&P 500 fell 1.5 percent, with tech dropping 1 percent. The Nasdaq slumped 1.4 percent.

Tech shares have been under pressure lately amid a sharp decline in Facebook shares. News broke recently that data research firm Cambridge Analytica gathered data from 50 million Facebook profiles without the permission of its users. Shares of Facebook have been under pressure all week, sliding 8.5 percent through Wednesday's close.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg broke his silence over the news, telling CNN it had been "a major breach of trust, and I'm really sorry that this happened."

The PowerShares QQQ Trust (QQQ), which tracks the tech-heavy Nasdaq 100 index, dropped 1 percent, breaking below its 50-day moving average, a key technical level. Google-parent Alphabet fell 1.5 percent and dipped into correction territory.

"Up until last week, the Tech sector had been a workhorse, leading the stock market higher," Ed Yardeni, president and chief investment strategist at Yardeni Research, said in a note Thursday. " Since the Tech sector peaked on March 12, the picture is bleaker."

"That said, the declines over roughly the past week are a drop in the bucket compared to the gains over the past year," Yardeni added. "Our hunch is that while Facebook may need to spend more on lobbying and complying with regulations, consumers won't drop their Facebook habit in the wake of this week's revelations because no one assumes that their Facebook postings are private."

Stocks were also pressured as the Trump administration announced tariffs designed to punish China for intellectual property theft. 

Equities have been under pressure recently as the Trump administration ramps up a protectionist trade agenda. Earlier this month, President Donald Trump announced the implementation of tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, raising concerns about a potential trade war.

Investors also digested the U.S. Federal Reserve's latest monetary policy decision. As widely expected by the markets, the Fed raised interest rates by 25 basis points on Wednesday and upgraded its economic outlook, saying that economic activity and jobs gains had been strong in recent months.

Market watchers expect the central bank to hike three times in 2018, while the Fed announced that it was increasing its rate-hike forecast for 2019. Following the announcement, Treasury yields rose with the benchmark 10-year yield briefly topping 2.9 percent, but gave back those gains on Thursday.


Courtesy/Source: CNBC