Stocks Taking Hits Midday

NEW YORK (AP) -- Stocks are turning lower on Wall Street Friday following a huge slump a day earlier as worries about an escalating trade conflict between the U.S. and China continue to rattle investors. Losses for chipmakers pulled technology companies lower and banks also fell. Markets dropped in Europe and Asia.

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 lost 16 points, or 0.6 percent, to 2,627 as of noon Eastern time. It had dropped 2.5 percent Thursday. The Dow Jones industrial average fell 53 points, or 0.2 percent, to 23,901. The Nasdaq composite fell 61 points, or 0.9 percent, to 7,104.

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. They 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.

Chipmakers fared especially badly, as many of those companies make the majority of their sales in China or neighboring countries. Micron Technology shed $3.69, or 6.3 percent, to $55.23 after its quarterly report. Nvidia lost $7.30, or 3 percent, to $234.55 Applied Materials declined $2.24, or 3.8 percent, to $56.72. Hard drive maker Western Digital, which only gets about 20 percent its revenue from the U.S., lost $6.66, or 6.6 percent, to $94.17.

Stocks made some gains early on, and at about 11 a.m., the Dow rose as much as 148 points. But that didn't last.

In another sign investors are nervous, gold and silver prices jumped Friday. Gold climbed 1.6 percent to $1,349.10 an ounce and silver gained 1.1 percent to $16.56 an ounce. The dollar fell to 104.90 yen from 105.61 yen. The euro rose to $1.2356 from $1.2307.

Germany's DAX was down 1.4 percent and the French CAC-40 lost 1.3 percent. The FTSE 100 in Britain slid 0.3 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.

Smaller companies have held up better than larger ones during the recent tumult over tariffs, in part because they do more of their business inside the U.S. and have less to fear from international trade disputes. The tariffs might drive up their costs, but they can pass those along to consumers by raising prices. Retaliatory tariffs on U.S. exports won't affect them as much.

The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks dipped 11 points, or 0.8 percent, to 1,532 Friday, but it's actually up slightly this month while the S&P 500 is down 3 percent.

Other winners included Nike. The sneaker company had a far stronger quarter than investors expected and its stock gained $1.69, or 2.6 percent, to $66.11. Uniform supplier Cintas also surpassed analyst estimates and climbed $7.69, or 4.7 percent, to $170.80.

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 $1.08, or 1.7 percent, to $65.38 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, the international standard for oil prices, added $1.08, or 1.6 percent, to $69.46 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)