Stocks, oil prices lower on tariff hike jitters

By Allen Cone  |  March 5, 2018 at 10:41 AM
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March 5 (UPI) -- Stocks and crude oil prices opened lower Monday on fears of U.S. steel and aluminum tariffs proposed by President Donald Trump.

At the opening, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell more than 100 points. The S&P 500 also declined 0.5 percent, with financials and industrial sectors experiencing the worst loss, and the Nasdaq composite was 0.3 percent lower.

Brent crude was trading lower by 0.23 percent to 64.22 at 10 a.m.

Last Thursday, Trump announced the United States would implement a 25 percent tariff on steel imports and 10 percent tariff on aluminum imports. The Dow closed down 400 points Thursday after being rattled by the news, and then declined another 70.92 points to finished at 24,538.06 for week, completing four straight days of losses.

World leaders condemned the announcement, and the European Union proposed tariffs on Harley-Davidson motorcycles and other U.S. products.

On Monday, Trump suggested in a tweet the possibility of lifting the new steel and aluminum tariffs if NAFTA is renegotiated to better help the United States.

"We have large trade deficits with Mexico and Canada. NAFTA, which is under renegotiation right now, has been a bad deal for U.S.A. Massive relocation of companies & jobs. Tariffs on Steel and Aluminum will only come off if new & fair NAFTA agreement is signed," Trump posted on Twitter.

In a follow-up tweet, Trump added that, "Also, Canada must ... treat our farmers much better. Highly restrictive. Mexico must do much more on stopping drugs from pouring into the U.S. They have not done what needs to be done. Millions of people addicted and dying."

Then, he Tweeted: "To protect our Country we must protect American Steel! #AMERICA FIRST".

Analysts say the tariff will hurt the stock market in the long run.

"The bears could make a comeback if President Donald Trump turns into an outright protectionist," Ed Yardeni, president and chief investment strategist at Yardeni Research, said in a note Monday. "More likely is that he will back off if the market continues to react badly to his protectionist pronouncements."

Also Monday, the International Energy Agency revised projected U.S. oil output growth up sharply. It said the United States would become the largest oil producer in the world by 2023 as it could be producing 17 million barrels per day by that year, a significant increase from the 13.2 million barrels per day produced in 2017.

The IEA advises industrialized nations on energy policies. It said although OPEC would fail to significantly increase its production capacity, oil demand growth will average 1.1 percent a year to 2023.

Oil ministers from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and other global oil players are to gather in Houston this week for CERAWeek, one of the largest energy conferences in the world, which starts on Monday.

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