Wall Street drops: Aus market to open lower

by Susie Olson March 5, 2018, 1:27
Wall Street drops: Aus market to open lower

The US president announced on Thursday plans to impose 25 percent tariffs on imported steel and 10 percent tariffs on foreign aluminum, with more details to be unveiled next week.

"You get the algorithms responding to the technical break and initiating sell programs", said Ken Polcari, director of the NYSE floor division at O'Neil Securities in NY.

The Standard & Poor's 500 index dropped 36 points, or 1.3 percent, to 2,677.

April-dated crude futures fell $1.37, or 2.2%, to end at $61.64 per barrel, after domestic crude inventories rose more than expected.

Near 1820 GMT, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was at 24,432.84, down 0.7 percent, still on track for its fourth straight loss but better than the 1.5 percent loss posted at one point.

Industrial companies that would take a hit from higher steel and aluminum prices fell sharply. Boeing was down 3.5 percent and Caterpillar was down 2.8 percent.

Big exporters like Apple and drugmaker Pfizer, which would suffer if trade tensions picked up, also fell.

The S&P 500 index finished down1.3% at 2,677, falling beneath a psychologically significant level at 2,678. The Dow gave up 4.3%, its biggest monthly drop in more than two years and paring its advance over the past 12 months to 20%.

USA markets have had worse days - this week, in fact - so a 71 point fall for the Dow could be counted as an acceptable outcome.

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Markets rebounded to return close to their January all-time highs when new Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell again spooked investors.

U.S. stocks fluctuated between gains and losses in the morning session on Thursday as Wall Street meditated on a string of economic reports.

Equity markets in Paris, Frankfurt and Tokyo all lost more than two percent as U.S. trading partners and several leading industry groups criticized Trump's plan.

Last month confirmed a 10-percent correction for the S&P, which is still down more than 6 percent from its January 26 record high.

Bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 2.85 percent. The day's trading was volatile, with all three major indexes erasing early gains and ending near their lows of the session.

Dental products supplier Patterson Companies plunged 23 percent in the first few minutes of trading Thursday after issuing weak quarterly results.

"The first quarter of 2018 will likely see the continuation of sales and margins in line with trends in the second half of 2017", added chief financial officer Lauren Peters. They surged in the morning following reports that the White House planned to make the announcement shortly, only to lose most of the gains when subsequent reports said the announcement may not happen.

U.S. Steel was up $2.26, or 5.2 per cent, to $45.77, and AK Steel jumped 45 cents, or 6.5 per cent, to $5.50.

The S&P 500 stock posting the largest daily percentage loss ahead of the close Wednesday was Frontier Communications Corp.

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