China, HK stocks slump most in 6 weeks on trade war…

Agence France-Presse

Some U.S. businesses in China also voiced concern. US indexes are on track for their worst week in two years.

Indicating that they would retaliate against tariffs announced by President Donald Trump.

But investors are concerned tensions will keep rising, and that a round of sanctions and retaliation will affect the global economy and corporate profits.

In response to President Donald Trump's tariff hike on steel and aluminum, China unveiled a list of USA goods including pork, apples and steel pipe that it may hit with higher import duties.

Mr Trump launched his protectionist agenda earlier this month - levying 25% tariffs on steel and 10% on aluminium - in a move created to save United States jobs but which critics fear could backfire and the Bank of England on Thursday warned risked damaging global growth.

Now the USA administration appears to be taking aim at the entire structure of the Chinese economy, with its huge state-owned companies and state-backed attempts to corner key technologies of the future. Shares of the cloud-computing company gained by as much as 44% in trading amid the broader market's weakness.

Stocks sagged at the start of this month after the tariffs on aluminium and steel were announced, but they quickly recovered as the administration said the tariffs would not be as severe as they first looked.

But fundamental changes such as joint venture requirements that often can not be negotiated without technology transfers and industrial policies aimed at acquiring and investing in more USA technology firms will not come without significant protracted pressure on China - and economic pain for the United States.

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The US president cited "intellectual property theft" as he signed the new tariffs into law, but US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross suggested the new measures were a way of bringing Beijing to the table, saying they were "the prelude to a set of negotiations". "There could be further decline if people get a sense there could be more trade restrictions in place".

The S&P 500 index skidded 38 points, or 1.4 per cent, to 2,605 as of 3:10 p.m.

On Wall Street the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed 1.77% down, giving a weekly fall of 5.67% All three major U.S. indexes recorded their biggest declines since January 2016. The Nasdaq Composite was down 174.01 points, or 2.43%, at 6,992.67.

Banks also took steep losses as interest rates decreased.

Orders for durable goods, key USA products that are expected to last at least three years, jumped 3.1% in February, much stronger than the 1.5% estimate. That would be a huge blow to USA farmers, as American exports to the Asian country are worth about $14 billion annually.

In a statement, the bloc said it would "reserve its rights, in compliance with World Trade Organisation rules, to respond to the USA measures as appropriate and in a proportionate manner". China imports almost $14.2 billion worth of soybeans every year.

The S&P's financial sector was the S&P's biggest percentage loser due to falling yields in U.S. Treasuries. For the smaller companies in the S&P 600 index, it's just 19.5 per cent.

Barclays warned in a report that a trade war would drown out the benefits of Trump's tax cuts, which helped power Wall Street's euphoric rally.

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