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Wall Street slides as trade war worries weigh

By April Joyner
Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, (NYSE) in New York, U.S., March 7, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

By April Joyner

NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. stocks fell on Wednesday after President Donald Trump sought to impose fresh tariffs on China, intensifying fears of a trade war that could raise costs and hurt overseas sales for U.S. companies.

The Trump administration is pressing China to cut its trade surplus with the United States by $100 billion, the White House said Wednesday.

Trump is looking to levy tariffs on up to $60 billion of Chinese imports, targeting the technology, telecom and apparel sectors, sources told Reuters on Tuesday.

"There's trade war talk going on," said Michael O'Rourke, chief market strategist at JonesTrading in Greenwich, Connecticut. "We saw people taking profit amidst the uncertainty."

Trump has already imposed tariffs on steel and aluminium imports as well as solar panels and washing machines, sparking threats of retaliation from some trade partners.

Boeing Co <BA.N> tumbled 2.7 percent, leading the losers on the Dow.

Stocks briefly pared some losses after economic analyst and commentator Larry Kudlow said on Wednesday he had accepted an offer to replace Gary Cohn as the White House's top economic adviser.

"Larry Kudlow is very much a free trader," said Stephen Massocca, senior vice president at Wedbush Securities in San Francisco. "This shows that Trump wants to hear the other side of the argument as well."

At 2:57 p.m. (1857 GMT), the Dow Jones Industrial Average <.DJI> fell 204.03 points, or 0.82 percent, to 24,803, the S&P 500 <.SPX> lost 11.78 points, or 0.43 percent, to 2,753.53 and the Nasdaq Composite <.IXIC> dropped 7.84 points, or 0.1 percent, to 7,503.17.

Also weighing on investor sentiment was data that showed U.S. retail sales fell for a third straight month in February, pointing to a slowdown in economic growth in the first quarter.

Financial stocks <.SPSY> fell 1.3 percent, tracking a decline in U.S. bond yields. [US/]

Signet Jewelers <SIG.N> fell 19.7 percent after the company gave a disappointing full-year earnings forecast.

Ford <F.N> rose 2.8 percent after Morgan Stanley upgraded the stock to "overweight" from "underweight" and raised its earnings estimate on the automaker.

Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by a 1.33-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.49-to-1 ratio favoured decliners.

The S&P 500 posted 12 new 52-week highs and five new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 90 new highs and 37 new lows.


(Additional reporting by Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru; Editing by Arun Koyyur and James Dalgleish)