The S&P 500 Index fell more than 2% and all 30 members of the Dow Jones Industrial Average retreated as President Donald Trump ordered a review of additional tariffs that prompted an aggressive response from China.
Attempts by White House officials to tone down concerns failed to calm nerves, with the CBOE Volatility Index (VIX) back above 21. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin added to the anxiety by saying there’s a “level of risk” the spat could worsen.
The tensions overshadowed the latest U.S. jobs report, which showed hiring cooled by more than forecast in March. Payrolls have a track record of falling shy of consensus estimates in March. Despite this, the latest report still came in weak relative to the underlying trend.
European equities declined for a third session in four days amid a renewed focus on trade tensions between the U.S. and China after notching their biggest gain in 21 months Thursday.
Automaker and mining shares lead declines as defensive utilities shares were the strongest industry group in Europe.
Japanese stocks advanced as investors bought domestic demand-related shares that are less vulnerable to trade friction after the U.S. administration defended its threats to impose tariffs on Chinese imports. Chinese equities were relatively unchanged falling 0.1%.