The stock market continues to bear the brunt of escalating trade tensions between the U.S. and China. The latest sell-off comes mere hours after President Donald Trump said he was considering another wave of tariffs on China imports, to the tune of $100 billion.
After closing the trading day Thursday up more than 200 points, the Dow Jones Industrial Average is back in the red today — down 187 points to 24,317 as of 10:45 a.m. ET. The Nasdaq had also shed 37 points to $7,039 and the S&P 500 had lost 15 points to 2,647.
After imposing 1,300 tariff lines at an estimated $50 billion on Chinese goods, the White House on Thursday evening released a statement noting that Trump has directed the Office of the United States Trade Representative to determine if an additional $100 billion worth of tariffs would be appropriate to impose on China.
Reactions to the new proposed tariffs came quickly, with trade organizations the Footwear Distributors & Retailers of America and the American Apparel & Footwear Association criticizing the Trump administration’s strategy.
“Adding more tariffs would be both stunning and ill-informed,” the FDRA, which helped to spearhead the footwear industry’s efforts to combat additional tariffs, said in a statement. “The first tariffs targeting $50 billion in goods was sold as placing a minimal burden on American families. There is no chance adding additional tariffs on another $100 billion in trade can prevent families from seeing cost increases on everyday goods, as well as job losses starting with agriculture and moving across much of our economy.”
While footwear and apparel walked away mostly unscathed when the Trump administration this week released a list of China imports it would target with $50 billion in tariffs, the FDRA said the latest round of proposed levies means that footwear is back in contention for tariff increases. “Unless the president is bluffing to get the Chinese to the negotiating table … this is a risky game, in our opinion,” the footwear association said. (When the White House released its tariff list on Tuesday, China immediately hit back, announcing its own $50 billion worth of tariffs on U.S. soybeans, automobiles, aircraft and other items.)
The AAFA, which represents more than 1,000 footwear, apparel and accessories brands and retailers on Capital Hill, also condemned Washington’s latest proposed levies on China imports as “far from appropriate.”
“It is time to wake up — we are being marched into a trade war, and the losers will be American workers, American consumers and the American economy,” the organization said in a statement. “Tariffs are hidden, regressive taxes paid for by hardworking American families and result in lost American jobs, higher prices and damage to the American economy, plain and simple. Additional tariffs only add fuel to the fire and create an environment of one-upmanship that will not solve the problem we are trying to fix. We cannot treat this like a schoolyard fight. This is a fight where everyone loses.”
Beijing is also likely to be considering its own counter, new reports suggest. The Washington Post today reported that Gao Feng, the spokesman for China’s Commerce Ministry, reiterated that China will use “any measure” to fight back, and has “very detailed countermeasures” ready if needed.
“We will not exclude any option,” Feng reportedly said at a press conference.
A weak March jobs report is also likely to be weighing on investor sentiment today. The economy added 103,000 jobs last month, while economists had expected 185,000 new jobs. The unemployment rate held steady at 4.1 percent for the sixth straight month, according to the latest data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.