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Stocks extend selloff as U.S.-China trade worries mount

Financial markets extended losses into Tuesday after U.S. President Donald Trump threatened two tariffs on billions of Chinese imports. Brendan McDermid/Reuters

U.S. and Canadian stocks slid on Tuesday in a broad-based selloff, as escalating trade tensions between the United States and China triggered global growth fears and kept investors away from riskier assets.

Beijing said on Tuesday that Chinese Vice Premier Liu He will visit the United States this week for trade talks, playing down U.S. President Donald Trump’s unexpected threat that he would raise tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods to 25 percent from 10 percent.

READ MORE: Amid stocks rout, Warren Buffett warns U.S.-China trade war would be ‘bad for the whole world’

Trade tensions pushed U.S. treasury yields lower as investors turned to low-risk government bonds, pressuring interest rate sensitive banking stocks, which fell 1.51 per cent.

Boeing Co., the single largest U.S. exporter to China, slipped 3.2 per cent and Caterpillar Inc declined 2.0 per cent.

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“As we digest the significance of the tariff threat, we are a little less hopeful that we are going to see progress at the end of this week that will forestall the additional tariffs,” said Tony Roth, chief investment officer at Wilmington Trust in Wilmington, Delaware.

“The economy globally is coming off a soft landing. We saw some re-acceleration as we moved closer to a resolution, but here as it falls apart, the question becomes how much direct and indirect impact will the tariffs have on the global economy.”

WATCH: Warren Buffett warns U.S.-China trade war would be ‘bad for the whole world’

Click to play video: 'Warren Buffett warns U.S.-China trade war would be ‘bad for the whole world’' Warren Buffett warns U.S.-China trade war would be ‘bad for the whole world’
Warren Buffett warns U.S.-China trade war would be ‘bad for the whole world’ – May 6, 2019

All the major S&P sectors were trading in the red, with nine of them posting losses of more than one per cent.

The CBOE Volatility Index, a gauge of investor anxiety, spiked to its highest level in over three months.

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At 12:39 p.m. ET the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 391.89 points, or 1.48 per cent, at 26,046.59. The S&P 500 was down 39.89 points, or 1.36 per cent, at 2,892.58 and the Nasdaq Composite was down 123.30 points, or 1.52 per cent, at 7,999.99. In Canada, the S&P/TSX Composite Index was down 157.52 points, or 0.86 per cent at 1:47 p.m. ET.

Marquee names including Microsoft Corp., Apple Inc., Amazon.com Inc. and Facebook Inc. fell more than 1.7 per cent and weighed on markets.

With earnings season now at its homestretch, profit estimates for the first quarter are now up 1.2 per cent, a sharp improvement from the 2.3 per cent decline expected at the start of the earnings season.

Of the 414 S&P companies that have reported earnings so far, about 75 per cent have surpassed analysts’ estimates, according to Refinitiv data.

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American International Group Inc. jumped 7.6 per cent after the insurer reported a quarterly profit that blew past expectations.

Mylan NV tumbled 17 per cent, the most among S&P companies, after the drugmaker reported lower-than-expected quarterly revenue and failed to provide greater clarity on a potential revamp of the company’s strategy.

Declining issues outnumbered advancers for a 3.55-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and for a 2.71-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded four new 52-week highs and five new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 41 new highs and 34 new lows.

— With a file from Global News’ Erica Alini

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