U.S. stocks fall during worst month in two years

Specialist Meric Greenbaum works on the floor of the New York exchange. Stocks fell sharply last month

It's the latest dizzying swing in a whirlwind week dominated by fears about a possible trade war and a more aggressive Federal Reserve.

In a research note, analysts at Barclays said they expect the immediate effects of the tariffs on the USA economy to be limited because "aluminum and steel imports together account for only about 2 percent of total goods imports".

Canada's main stock index fell moderately as stocks south of the border dropped sharply amid talk of tariffs on steel and aluminum by U.S. President Donald Trump. He said that the United States is losing on trade with virtually every country and that "trade wars are good" and "easy to win".

Investors had a different impression.

The Standard & Poor's 500 index was up 3 points, or 0.1 percent, to 2,717. The worst weekly loss of previous year was 1.4 per cent.

The Dow was down 161 points, or 0.7 percent, to 24,444.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI fell 70.92 points, or 0.29 percent, to 24,538.06, the S&P 500 .SPX gained 13.58 points, or 0.51 percent, to 2,691.25 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC added 77.31 points, or 1.08 percent, to 7,257.87.

Losses in industrial and health care stocks are pulling major US indexes lower in morning trading on Wall Street. Concerns got so high that the S&P 500 spiralled down 10% in just nine days at one point, before trimming some of its losses. Apple, the most valuable US company, got 63 percent of its sales from outside the United States in its latest fiscal year. The head of the European Commission said the region would respond in kind.

Blue-chip companies, which do more sales overseas than smaller ones, fared worse than the rest of the market.

The S&P 500 still ended the week with a loss of 2 percent, its third decline that severe in the last five weeks.

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"It's helping about a dozen stocks in those industries but has raised the specter of trade wars, and trade wars don't help the stock market".

Stocks are mostly lower on Wall Street as investors worry that an escalation of trade tensions could harm big USA companies and the global economy. It was a continuation of the remarkably smooth rise that investors enjoyed in 2017.

The Fed's chairman, Jerome Powell, jolted markets on Tuesday, when he said that he's feeling more optimistic about the USA economy. Later in the week, though, Powell may have calmed some of the fears when he said that he does not see inflation in wages "at a point of acceleration".

If Trump follows through on his tariff promise, it could raise costs for companies that use lots of steel, which could lead to higher inflation.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury rose to 2.83 percent from 2.81 percent late Thursday.

Bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 2.85 percent. The 30-year yield, which moves more on expectations of future inflation, climbed to 3.14 percent from 3.09 percent.

Dental supplies maker Patterson Companies plunged 22 percent after reporting weak earnings for the latest quarter.

J.C. Penney Co Inc (JCP.N) shares fell 5.4 percent after the department store chain missed same-store sales estimates. He also said, "I would expect that some continued strengthening in the labor market can take place without causing inflation".

The S&P 500 posted one new 52-week high and 25 new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 59 new highs and 65 new lows. The Nasdaq declined 1.9 percent, its biggest monthly percentage fall since October 2016. The FTSE 100 in London dropped 0.8 percent. Brent crude, the worldwide standard, rose 54 cents to $64.37 a barrel. The euro rose to $1.2275 from $1.2263.

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