Stocks slump after Trump says U.S.-China trade deal can wait

U.S. stocks fell sharply Tuesday morning after President Trump cast doubt over the potential for a trade deal with China this year and threatened to impose tariffs on French goods.

Trump said he has “no deadline” for a deal and didn’t mind waiting until after the election next year to make one. Investors had been hoping for a deal this year — or at least enough progress to stave off new U.S. tariffs on Chinese goods, including smartphones and laptops, that are scheduled to start Dec. 15.

Wall Street is also weighing the potential for an expanded series of trade disputes after a month of relative calm. On Tuesday, Trump proposed tariffs on $2.4 billion in French products in retaliation for a tax on global tech giants including Google, Amazon and Facebook. That follows a threat Monday to raise tariffs on steel and aluminum from Argentina and Brazil.

Technology stocks led the losers Tuesday morning. The sector is highly sensitive to twists in the trade dispute because many of the companies rely on China for sales and supply chains. Apple slumped 2.4%. Intel fell 2.5%.

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Bank stocks also suffered heavy losses as investors headed for the safety of bonds, pushing bond yields lower. Banks rely on higher bond yields to charge more lucrative interest rates on mortgages and other loans. The yield on the 10-year Treasury fell sharply, to 1.74% from 1.83%.

Bank of America shares and Citigroup shares both declined 2.4%.

Utilities and real estate companies held up the best as investors shifted money to the safer-play sectors.

KEEPING SCORE: The S&P 500 index was down 1.1% shortly before noon Eastern. The Dow Jones industrial average fell 403 points, or 1.5%, to 27,379. The Nasdaq fell 1.1%. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks fell 0.7%.

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Asian and European markets also fell.