NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. stocks slumped with other markets around the world Thursday after China said it would retaliate if the U.S. follows through with a plan to raise tariffs on Chinese imports.
Trade tensions between the world's two largest economies are dragging down stocks from Mumbai to Milan as the hours tick down to a deadline at 12:01 a.m. Eastern time Friday, when the United States said it would impose more tariffs on Chinese goods. The worries about trade have halted what has been the hottest start to a year for U.S. stocks in decades, and the S&P 500 index is on pace for its worst week of 2019.
The U.S. government has filed plans to raise tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese imports from 10% to 25%. The Trump administration has also threatened to extend 25% tariffs to another $325 billion in Chinese imports, covering everything China ships to the United States.
On Thursday, Beijing said it will impose "necessary countermeasures" if the increases take effect as planned, the Commerce Ministry said. It gave no details but a ministry spokesman said Beijing has made "all necessary preparations," suggesting it might be bracing for worsening conflict.
Such moves would mark a sharp escalation in the trade dispute that has raised prices on goods for consumers and companies.
KEEPING SCORE: The S&P 500 fell 1.1%, as of 10 a.m. Eastern time. It was on pace for its fourth straight loss, which would be its longest such streak in two months.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 286 points, or 1.1%, to 25,682, and the Nasdaq composite fell 1.4%.
LOSERS NEARLY EVERYWHERE: Selling was widespread, and roughly 80% of the stocks in the S&P 500 were lower.
Technology companies had some of the sharpest losses, and many companies in the sector get much of their revenue from China. Tech stocks in the S&P 500 fell 2%. Raw material producers and financial stocks also sank sharply.
Utility stocks inched higher after a drop in Treasury yields made the dividends that they pay more attractive.
TRADE TALKS: Negotiations are scheduled to continue in Washington on Thursday and to include China's top trade official, raising some hopes in the markets that there will be a last-minute deal to prevent another round of tariffs.
"With representatives from both sides meeting for a final time ahead of tomorrow's potential tariffs increase, many will see Trump's tone as yet another move in a high-stakes chess game which clearly has further to run," said Joshua Mahony, senior market analyst at IG.
The possibility that the dispute could escalate represents a marked shift from just a few weeks ago, when talks between the U.S. and China appeared to be on track for an agreement. Increasing confidence among investors earlier this year that a deal would be done helped vault the S&P 500 to a 17.5% surge in the first four months of the year. A more patient Federal Reserve, which said it may not raise interest rates at all this year, also helped to clear worries about a possible recession.
The U.S. and China have already raised tariffs on tens of billions of dollars of each other's goods in their dispute over U.S. complaints about Beijing's industrial and technology policies and a perennial U.S. deficit in trade with China.
MARKETS OVERSEAS: In Asia, South Korea's Kospi index skidded 3%, while the Hang Seng in Hong Kong lost 2.4% and Japan's Nikkei 225 fell 0.9%. In Europe, the French CAC 40 lost 1.7%, Germany's Dax dropped 1.4% and the FTSE 100 in London fell 0.7%.