The S&P 500 Index dropped 1 percent and was on track for its worst week in a month, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average lost more than 300 points after Trump declared trade wars are “easy to win” in a tweet on Friday.
U.S. stocks sank Friday as President Donald Trump ratcheted up his talk of a “trade war,” compounding investor concerns over a more hawkish Federal Reserve and the potential end to monetary stimulus in Japan. Gold climbed while the dollar weakened and Treasuries fell.
The S&P 500 Index dropped 1 percent and was on track for its worst week in a month, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average lost more than 300 points after Trump declared trade wars are “easy to win” in a tweet on Friday. The Cboe Volatility Index, better known as the VIX, continued its four-day climb. The Stoxx Europe 600 Index sank nearly 2 percent and headed for a fourth day of losses, while Germany’s DAX Index reached its lowest level since August.
Japan led the retreat in Asia earlier, with the Topix Index tumbling after Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda mentioned for the first time a possible time frame for discussing an exit from its extraordinary easing program. The yen surged to the strongest since 2016 and shares from Hong Kong to Australia declined.
Trump pushed back against a wave of criticism of the steel and aluminum tariffs he proposed Thursday, saying “trade wars are good.” The possibility of the levies raises the prospect of tit-for-tat curbs on American exports and higher prices for domestic users, further clouding the outlook for economic growth at a time when central banks around the world are embarking on policy-tightening or approaching it.
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Kuroda’s comments were seen as further evidence the era of massive stimulus that boosted asset prices and slashed borrowing costs is coming to an end. Earlier this week, Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell sparked speculation the central bank may quicken the pace of monetary tightening, a move investors worry could derail economic expansion.
“We’re entering a period of turbulence,” Sebastien Page, head of asset allocation at T. Rowe Price, told Bloomberg TV from Baltimore. “So at the margin we are taking away from equities, adding both bonds and cash.”
Elsewhere, oil declined amid concerns about increasing U.S. crude production, and gold rallied. The Cboe Volatility Index is up about 50 percent this week as traders anticipate more turmoil.