Losses in industrial and health care stocks are pulling major US indexes lower in morning trading on Wall Street.
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Stocks slumped on Wall Street, breaking the longest streak of positive monthly returns in the history of the Standard & Poor's 500 index.
A two-day pullback became a three-day swoon Thursday as equity traders fretted about global retaliation after President Donald Trump said the USA will slap tariffs on steel and aluminum imports.
Investors had a different impression. He also said, "I would expect that some continued strengthening in the labor market can take place without causing inflation". The president of the European Union's governing body suggested possible tariffs on blue jeans and motorcycles.
The S&P 500 increased 3.35 points, or 0.12 per cent, to 2,717.18. Eastern time. It's on pace for a loss of 2.5 per cent this week, which would be its third decline that severe in the last five weeks.
United States markets have had worse days - this week, in fact - so a 71 point fall for the Dow could be counted as an acceptable outcome.
The Dow Jones has surged by 1.6 per cent, or 399 points, to 25,709 - while the S&P 500 and Nasdaq indexes have jumped by 1.2 per cent each.
Investors are particularly interested in hearing where he sees interest rates this year. "This was an anchor, an opening bid".
The February losses for both indexes broke 10 consecutive months of gains, which is the most since 1959.
About 7.7 billion shares changed hands on US exchanges.
USA stock index futures gave up losses and were largely flat on Thursday after data showed consumer spending in January notched its smallest increase in five months and core inflation rose less than expected.
The trade worries are piling onto a market that was already nervous. It had only four such days past year. His address to congress signalled the Fed will keep raising interest rates to contain inflation.
"When central banks ease, the goal is shock and awe, or to use a football analogy, to throw the deep ball", he said.
Dow futures are down 194 points, the index having closed 420 points lower yesterday, while S&P 500 futures are trading over 13 points lower. The 30-year yield, which moves more on expectations of future inflation, climbed to 3.13 per cent from 3.09 per cent.
And on the earnings side, Thursday will be retail-heavy with highlights expected from Kohl's (KSS), Best Buy (BBY), Nordstrom (JWN), Gap (GPS), and gunmaker American Outdoor Brands (AOBC).
The shares were down 7.4% at US$42.50 ahead of the start of open outcry trading.
The losses follow up sharp drops in markets overseas.
In particular, Apple and Intel shares rose by 2 and 2.9 per cent respectively.
In Europe, France's CAC 40 lost 2.4 per cent, and Germany's DAX fell 2.3 per cent. The FTSE 100 in London dropped 0.8 percent.
Crude oil was down 2.5% at $61.46.
On the commodities front, the April crude contract was down 65 cents to US$60.99 per barrel and the April natural gas contract was up three cents at US$2.70 per mmBTU.
Dick's Sporting Goods gained 0.7% after announcing it would stop selling assault-style rifles and bar all gun sales to customers under 21 years old.
The dollar dipped to 106.24from 106.66 yen late Wednesday. It is buying about 78.5 USA cents, 56.2 British pence and 63.9 euro cents.