Stocks Holding Steady Early Friday

NEW YORK (AP) -- Stocks are stabilizing on Wall Street following a huge slump a day earlier when worries about an escalating trade conflict between the U.S. and China rattled investors. Energy companies rose along with the price of crude oil. Markets fell in Europe and Asia.

Investors around the world remain worries about the possibility of greater tensions and less trade between the two largest economies in the world.

The Chinese government said it might place tariffs on a $3 billion list of U.S. goods in response to the steel and aluminum tariffs President Donald Trump announced earlier this month. Those goods include pork, apples, and steel pipes.

China didn't respond yet to the tariffs Trump announced on Thursday, which could affect as much as $60 billion in imports. The White House says Beijing steals or forces foreign companies to hand over technology, and China has said it will defend itself.

The S&P 500 index was little changed at 2,641 as of 10:20 a.m. Eastern time. It had dropped 2.5 percent Thursday. The Dow Jones industrial average added 78 points, or 0.3 percent, to 24,035. The Nasdaq composite fell 4 points, or 0.1 percent, to 7,162. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks dipped 2 points, or 0.2 percent, to 1,541.

The Dow dropped more than 700 points Thursday, its worst loss since early February, as investors worried the dispute could escalate and could slow down global economic growth and company profits.

Technology companies continued to struggle Friday. Chipmaker Nvidia lost $5.79, or 2.4 percent, to $236.06 and Western Digital fell $6.85, or 6.8 percent, to $93.98.

Tech companies make more of their sales overseas than most other U.S. companies do. The companies on the S&P technology index make 60 percent of their sales outside the U.S., with about 15 percent of their revenue coming from mainland China and Taiwan, according to FactSet.

In another sign investors are nervous, gold and silver prices jumped Friday. Gold climbed 1.4 percent to $1,346.50 an ounce and silver gained 1.2 percent, to $16.50 an ounce. The dollar fell to 105.16 yen from 105.61 yen. The euro rose to $1.2336 from $1.2307.

Germany's DAX was down 1.4 percent and the French CAC-40 lost 1.2 percent. The FTSE 100 in Britain slid 0.4 percent.

U.S. energy companies rose along with the price of crude oil. ConocoPhillips rose 2.2 percent and Occidental Petroleum climbed 2.3 percent.

Other winners included Nike. The sneaker company had a far stronger quarter than investors expected and its stock gained $1.93, or 3 percent, to $66.36. Uniform supplier Cintas also surpassed analyst estimates and climbed $10.709, or 6.2 percent, to $173.20.

In Asia, markets ended sharply lower after a stomach-churning ride. Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 index plunged 4.5 percent, its second-biggest daily decline in the last year, and South Korea's Kospi tumbled 3.2 percent. Hong Kong's Hang Seng lost 2.5 percent.

U.S. bond prices held steady after soaring a day earlier. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note held steady at 2.83 percent. Stocks that pay big dividends, similar to bonds, made some of the largest gains Friday morning. Those included household goods makers and utility companies.

The price of oil climbed 97 cents, or 1.5 percent, to $65.27 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, the international standard for oil prices, added 88 cents, or 1.3 percent, to $69.26 a barrel in London.

Led by a surge in demand for commercial aircraft, U.S. orders for long-lasting manufactured goods rebounded in February, reversing a drop in January, to rise at the fastest pace since June.

The Commerce Department said Friday that orders for durable goods, items meant to last at least three years, rose 3.1 percent last month. That was better than economists expected and helped make up for a decline in January.

(BE)