Wall Street saw a massive sell-off on Monday as investors responded to an escalating trade battle between the U.S. and China, after Beijing announced it would be slapping tit-for-tat tariffs on $60 billion of U.S. goods.
Concluding a session of steep losses, the Dow Jones Industrial Average ended down by 618 points, or 2.38 percent, marking the biggest one-day loss for the blue-chip index since January.
At the closing bell, the S&P 500 had dipped 2.4 percent and the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite ended its worst day this year, down 3.4 percent.
The dramatic trading session saw companies with the greatest exposure to China — such as Dow stalwarts Boeing and Caterpillar — take the largest hits. The tech sector also took a beating, with Apple, United Technologies and Cisco all down around 5 percent.
The escalation in trade tensions between the U.S. and China wiped more than $1 trillion from global markets in just one day. Stock exchanges across the world have witnessed intense volatility over the past few weeks, with all three major indices in the U.S. seeing an extended sell-off as investors parsed the likelihood of a resolution to months of trade negotiations between the world’s two largest economies.
“We’ve never taken in 10 cents [from China] until I was elected,” President Donald Trump told reporters at the White House on Monday when asked about the ongoing trade war. “We’re taking in billions of dollars in tariffs. I love the position that we are in, we’ve gone up a lot since our great election.”
While Trump has repeatedly asserted that China pays the tariffs, White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow acknowledged this weekend that U.S. consumers end up paying for the administration’s tariffs on Chinese goods, telling “Fox News Sunday” in an interview that “Both sides will suffer on this.”
Trump said Monday he was not worried about additional retaliation from China for the tariffs the U.S. had imposed on a total of $250 billion in Chinese imports, saying “It’s working out very well.” He also said he was hopeful for a “very fruitful” meeting with China’s President Xi Jinping at the G-20 meeting in Osaka in June.
The retaliation from the Chinese finance ministry comes after Trump followed through on his threat to raise tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese imports last week. As of 12:01 a.m. last Friday, around 5,700 categories of Chinese-made goods bound for the U.S. were subject to a 25 percent tariff, up from 10 percent.
After the two sides failed to reach a deal during high-level trade talks in Washington last week, Trump challenged Beijing, tweeting this weekend that “I say openly to President Xi & all of my many friends in China that China will be hurt very badly if you don’t make a deal because companies will be forced to leave China for other countries. Too expensive to buy in China. You had a great deal, almost completed, & you backed out!”
He also warned the Chinese that “the deal will become far worse for them if it has to be negotiated in my second term. Would be wise for them to act now, but love collecting BIG TARIFFS!”
China has already raised duties on $110 billion of American imports in retaliation for earlier tariff hikes by the Trump administration.
Due to the lopsided trade balance — China imports only $130 billion in American goods, compared to the $500 billion in Chinese goods that the U.S. imports — regulators have targeted operations of American companies in China by slowing customs clearance for their goods and stepping up regulatory scrutiny that can hamper operations.
The decline in trade relations has left businesses, investors and policymakers across the world concerned about the negative impacts on an already slowing global economy.