NEW YORK: Wall Street was in the red and headed lower in early trading on Thursday as investors continued to retreat amid fears of an emerging global trade war.
The sagging share prices put the benchmark Dow Jones Industrial Average on track to close lower for an eight consecutive session.
A half-hour into the trading day, the Dow was down 0.5 percent, the broader S&P 500 had fallen 0.2 percent and the tech-heavy Nasdaq, which has hit a spate of recent all-time highs, was off by 0.1 percent.
Global Times, owned by China’s communist party, warned Thursday that Beijing could take an unspecified “hard line” approach against Dow-listed companies in response to US President Donald Trump’s trade offensive.
“China is in full combat mode and prepared to strongly respond to any probable threat or economic assault from Trump,” the paper said.
Aircraft giant Boeing and heavy equipment maker Caterpillar, both Dow members that rely on the Chinese market for significant revenues, were down 1.5 percent and 1.9 percent respectively.
Elsewhere, the Labor Department reported that record low levels of jobless claims had continued last week, pointing to another strong month of hiring.
But the Philadelphia Federal Reserve reported a sharp drop in its monthly manufacturing survey, which badly undershot analyst expectations.
Meanwhile, expectations of an OPEC production increase also weighed on energy stocks with Exxon Mobil down 0.3 percent and Chevron falling 1.2 percent.
Trade worries were also dampening the mood in the auto sector after Germany’s Daimler cut annual profit forecasts.
Trump has threatened to put tariffs on all auto imports, casting $200 billion in annual imports into uncertainty.
US automaker Ford fell 1.4 percent and General Motors sank an even steeper 2.3 percent.