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US: Stocks tumble on trade war fears

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[NEW YORK] Wall Street stocks were under pressure for a third session in a row Tuesday, joining a global selloff on heightened fears that US-China confrontations will mushroom into a trade war.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 1.2 per cent to 24,700.21.

The broad-based S&P 500 shed 0.4 per cent to 2,762.57, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index lost 0.3 per cent at 7,725.59.

Shares of big US companies active in China were among the hardest hit, with Boeing, Caterpillar and Deere each losing almost four percent.

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Trade brinkmanship between Washington and Beijing continued late Monday when President Donald Trump threatened to put fresh duties on between US$200 billion and US$400 billion in Chinese imports, prompting tough words from China.

White House economic aide Peter Navarro told reporters Tuesday China had "much more to lose" from the clash because of the imbalance in imports.

Despite the escalating rhetoric, many on Wall Street are skeptical a worst-case scenario of an all-out trade war will come to pass.

"Our advice to clients has been to step back from the day-to-day noise," said Alan Skrainka, chief investment officer at Cornerstone Wealth Management.

"We think that at the end of the day, cool heads will prevail and both sides will reach an agreement."

Among individual companies, Colgate-Palmolive jumped 1.1 per cent after announcing a new share repurchase plan of up to US$5 billion.

Sarepta Therapeutics surged 36.8 per cent after announcing positive clinical findings on a gene therapy treatment for patients with a form of muscular dystrophy.

AFP