A fresh bout of volatility for U.S. stocks looked likely on Friday, as Dow futures tumbled more than 200 points on a revival of trade-war jitters.
President Donald Trump announced late Thursday that he was considering tariffs on another $100 billion in Chinese goods, which would triple the amount of imports facing levies.
The move brings bubbling worries over a full-blown trade war back to the surface, a topic that has been roiling markets in recent weeks.
Meanwhile, traders are looking ahead to two big economic events Friday — the release of U.S. March payroll data and a speech by Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell.
What are main benchmarks doing?
Dow Jones Industrial Average futures YMM8, -0.74% slumped 250 points, or 1%, to 24,218. S&P 500 futures ESM8, -0.65% slid 23.55 points, or 0.8%, to 2,638.50. Nasdaq-100 futures NQM8, -0.66% fell 63 points, or 1%, to 6,537.75.
The major U.S. stock indexes posted their first three-day gain in a month on Thursday, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, +0.99% climbing 241 points, or 1%, to 24,505. The S&P 500 index SPX, +0.69% rose 0.7%, while the Nasdaq Composite Index COMP, +0.49% added 0.5%.
Equities fell hard Monday, then proceeded to recover, but Friday’s session is promising the volatility that investors are becoming accustomed to. With one more session to go, Dow is looking at a gain of 1.7% for the week, while the S&P 500 is poised to put on 0.8%. A weekly advance for the Nasdaq is on the line, with the index up just 0.2% as of Thursday’s close.
What’s driving markets
Ratcheting up trade tensions, the White House said in a statement after the market close Thursday that Trump has asked the U.S. Trade Representative to consider an extra $100 billion in Chinese goods to face tariffs and to identify the products that could be targeted.
The move escalates a tit-for-tat trade battle between the two biggest economies in the world: In an escalating trade skirmish, both countries have each proposed levies on $50 billion in imports from the other. Just a day ago, stocks moved higher on hopes a full-blown trade war could be averted once negotiations began.
U.S. stock futures immediately tumbled on Thursday’s news, action which continued into Friday’s session. Investors will now be on the lookout for any reaction or response from China.
“If this trade war comes to pass, it will be an evenly matched total war between China and the U.S. economies, and not some small scuffle. It would be delusional for the U.S. to think it will be victorious at the end of this trade war,” China’s state-run Global Times said in opinion editorial .
Away from trade, Friday should see the release of monthly U.S. jobs data, which are expected to reflect a slowdown in the pace of jobs growth, which has been somewhat heated so far this year.
Also on deck are comments from Fed Chairman Jerome Powell, who is set to speak to the Economic Club of Chicago at 1:30 p.m. Eastern Time. Later, San Francisco Fed President John Williams is scheduled to give a speech in Santa Rosa, California at 4 p.m. Eastern
Which economic reports are in focus?
The March nonfarm payrolls data are due at 8:30 a.m. Eastern Time. Economists polled by MarketWatch are forecasting an increase of 170,000, far below February’s massive 313,000 gain. Economists forecast a 0.2% rise in hourly pay in March, which would nudge the annual gain up to 2.7%, from 2.6%.
An update on consumer credit for February is due at 3 p.m. Eastern.
Check out: MarketWatch’s Economic Calendar
What are strategists saying?
“So besides an unlikely full-blown trade war, the real risk facing capital markets is a more aggressive Fed, and tonight’s average hourly wages data could provide that inflation fodder for reigniting the four rate hikes debate,” said Stephen Innes, senior trader at Oanda.
“But let’s not forget that delicate issue when QE gets pulled back, there’s no accurate roadmap to navigate that bumpy road,” Innes said in a note to clients.
What stocks are moving?
Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. GT, +1.80% shares may be in focus, after a report that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is probing allegations the company covered up the use of potentially faulty tires linked to deadly accidents.
Target Corp. TGT, +0.81% has agreed to pay more than $3.7 million to settle a lawsuit over racial bias in screening job applicants. The retailer also said it will overhaul its job-screening guidelines.
Campbell Soup Co. CPB, +0.58% said late Thursday it has reshuffled senior executives and launched a restructuring of the company. The overhaul includes creating an accelerator unit to assist in building a “agile and dynamic operating model.”
What are other markets doing?
After logging advances on Thursday, European stocks SXXP, -0.40% opened with losses. Gold futures GCM8, -0.11% rose modestly, while the ICE U.S. Dollar Index DXY, -0.01% was flat. A pullback for perceived riskier assets took a toll on oil prices CLK8, -0.58% , which fell 0.5%.