Stocks edged lower in early trading on Wall Street Friday after Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell gave no clear signal on additional interest rate cuts. Stocks recovered some of their losses from an early slide caused by the latest escalation in the trade war between the U.S. and China.
Speaking at a Fed policy conference in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, Powell noted that there's growing evidence of a global economic slowdown and suggested that uncertainty over President Donald Trump's trade wars have complicated the central bank's ability to set interest rate policy.
Powell reiterated that the Fed "will act as appropriate to sustain the expansion."
The Fed cut rates last month for the first time in a decade, and most investors expect it to cut rates again in September to shore up U.S. economic growth.
Beijing said Friday it would retaliate against the most recent round of tariffs imposed by Washington with duties on $75 billion of U.S. products.
The tariffs of 10% and 5% are to take effect on two batches of goods on Sept. 1 and Dec. 15, the official Xinhua News Agency said.
The S&P 500 was down 0.2% as of 10:18 a.m. Eastern Time. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 27 points, or 0.1%, to 26,227. The Nasdaq dropped 0.3%.
Technology companies, which have much to lose in the trade battle, accounted for a big share of the market's losses. Chipmaker Nvidia slid 2%. Companies that rely on consumer spending also took losses. Retailer L Brands dropped 5.2%.
Energy stocks headed lower along with crude oil prices. U.S. bond prices rose, sending yields lower.
The market has been highly volatile all month as investors try to parse conflicting signals on the U.S. economy and determine whether a recession is on the horizon. A key concern is that the escalating and costly trade conflict between Washington and Beijing.
The Trump administration has imposed a 25% tariff on $250 billion in Chinese imports. A pending 10% tariff on another $300 billion in goods would hit everything from toys to clothing and shoes that China ships to the United States, however some 60% of the new tariffs wouldn't go into effect until mid-December, and others were taken off the table altogether.
China gave no details of what goods would be affected in its latest round of tariffs, but the timing matches Trump's planned duty hikes.
China's government appealed to Trump this week to compromise in order to break a deadlock in negotiations.
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