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US: Wall Street slides as trade anxiety resumes

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[NEW YORK] US stocks fell back into the red on Wednesday, putting equities down for three of the last four sessions as investors reacted to reports of possible new US-China trade frictions.

US chip titan Qualcomm also drove tech shares lower after a federal judge found the company had "strangled competition" by violating US anti-trust laws.

The benchmark Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.4 per cent to close at 25,776.61, leaving it essentially flat for the week.

Meanwhile, the broader S&P 500 fell also 0.4 per cent to 2,856.27, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq lost 0.5 per cent to finish at 7,750.84, both turning negative for the week.

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Investors were jarred by media reports that President Donald Trump was considering blacklisting the Chinese video surveillance firm Hikvision in a move similar to this month's ban on sales to telecommunications firm Huawei, which likewise battered stocks.

Qualcomm sank 10.9 per cent, extending a string of recent losses after US Judge Lucy Koh ordered the company to change its pricing and sales practices, finding it had "engaged in anticompetitive conduct" toward customers like Samsung, Sony and Huawei.

Stocks pared some losses after minutes from the Federal Reserve showed policymakers believed the central bank should leave interest rates untouched for the near-term even though risks to the economy had receded.

However, that more sanguine assessment came prior to a recent breakdown in US-China trade negotiations and the resumption of retaliatory tariff measures by both sides.

Shares in retail chain Target jumped 7.8 per cent after the company posted better-than-expected earnings.

In an analyst call, however, the company later joined in warnings from retailers like Walmart, saying that a new round of tariffs on US$300 billion in Chinese imports could leave customers with higher prices but that the company was working to cushion the blow.

US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told lawmakers on Wednesday that at least some goods were likely to rise in price as a result of the tariffs in remarks that ran counter to Mr Trump's message.

AFP