World stocks fall as investors brace for US tariffs decision
U.S. stocks are broadly lower Wednesday morning as investors react to the departure of Gary Cohn, the top economic adviser to President Donald Trump. Wall Street liked Cohn, a former top executive at Goldman Sachs who opposed the administration's planned tariffs on imports of steel and aluminum. His departure could be a sign more protectionist policies are on the way.
Industrial companies like Caterpillar and Boeing are taking some of the worst losses. Retailers are sinking after weak results and a disappointing annual forecast from discount chain Dollar Tree.
KEEPING SCORE: The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 17 points, or 0.6 percent, to 2,711 as of 10 a.m. The Dow Jones industrial average declined 191 points, or 0.8 percent, to 24,692. The Nasdaq composite slid 32 points, or 0.4 percent, to 7,339. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks dipped 3 points, or 0.2 percent, to 1,558.
TRADE: Cohn, the director of the National Economic Council, was known to oppose the tariff plan, which has also drawn criticism from Republicans in Congress. Trump has been resisting calls to reverse his stance. The European Union, meanwhile, said it was finalizing a list of U.S. products that it could hit with tariffs in retaliation, should that be required.
Industrial companies face the prospect of both greater expenses due to higher metals costs and restricted sales overseas if other nations respond with tariffs on U.S. goods.
Aerospace company Boeing lost $3.72, or 1.1 percent, to $345.20 and construction equipment maker Caterpillar gave up $3.52, or 2.3 percent, to $150.23. Farm equipment maker Deere shed $3.01, or 1.9 percent, to $155.50. Harley-Davidson, which faces potential EU tariffs on motorcycles, slid 70 cents, or 1.6 percent, to $43.63.
DOLLAR TREE STUMPED: Discount retailer Dollar Tree's fourth quarter results disappointed investors, and so did its forecasts for the current year. It tumbled $15.21, or 14.6 percent, to $89.15.
Competitor Ross Stores lost $5.92, or 7.4 percent, to $74.59 and Dollar General fell $3.79, or 4.1 percent, to $89.65. Other companies that make and sell consumer products were generally lower. Department store Kohl's retreated $1.46, or 2.2 percent, to $65.36 and Newell Brands skidded 33 cents, or 1.2 percent, to $27.56.
ECONOMY: Private U.S. employers added 235,000 jobs in February, according to ADP. The government will release its own jobs report Friday, and investors will be keeping a close eye on wage growth. Stocks plunged a month ago after the jobs report for January showed strong growth in hourly wages, a possible sign of greater inflation.
BONDS: Bond prices edged higher. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 2.87 percent from 2.89 percent.
OVERSEAS: Germany's DAX rose 0.5 percent and Britain's FTSE 100 gained 0.2 percent while the French CAC 40 was little changed. Asian markets started flat but losses widened in the afternoon. Japan's Nikkei 225 dropped 0.8 percent while South Korea's Kospi fell 0.4 percent. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index sank 1 percent.
OIL: Benchmark U.S. crude lost 45 cents to $62.15 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, fell 41 cents to $65.38 per barrel in London.
CURRENCIES: The dollar dipped to 105.97 yen from 106.21 yen. The euro edged up to $1.2411 from $1.2405 and the British pound declined to $1.3885 from $1.3890.