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Dow falls 620 points as U.S.-China trade war escalates

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The stock market fell sharply Friday, after China announced it would slap retaliatory tariffs on $75 billion worth of U.S. goods and President Donald Trump vowed to fight back.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell by more than 621 points, a dip of about 2.37 percent, after a series of tit-for-tat tweets by the president that ordered American companies to find alternatives to China. The Nasdaq Composite and S&P 500 tumbled by 3 percent and 2.59 percent, respectively.

Markets had been higher earlier in the day, ahead of a speech by Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell, who has been repeatedly lambasted by Trump for not lowering rates more readily. Wall Street, which has reacted with increasing volatility to any nuance in Powell’s speeches, leveled out after the chairman’s prepared remarks indicated the nation’s central bank would continue to “act as appropriate” to maintain the economic expansion.

Meanwhile Friday, Trump savaged Powell as an “enemy” who could be worse for the United States than Chinese President Xi Jinping.

“As usual, the Fed did NOTHING! It is incredible that they can ‘speak’ without knowing or asking what I am doing, which will be announced shortly,” Trump tweeted. “We have a very strong dollar and a very weak Fed. I will work ‘brilliantly’ with both, and the U.S. will do great.”

Trump added: “My only question is, who is our bigger enemy, Jay Powell or Chairman Xi?” referring to the Chinese leader. Trump misspelled Powell’s name in an initial tweet, which he then deleted.

Starting Sept. 1, tariffs of 5 percent will be imposed upon soybeans and crude oil, with the second tranche of products taxed at 10 percent beginning Dec. 15, according to a statement from the Chinese Ministry of Commerce. American cars will be taxed at 25 percent, also beginning in mid-December.

“If the U.S. obstinately clings to its own way, China has no choice but to take corresponding countermeasures,” a Ministry of Commerce spokesman warned Thursday.

Earlier this month, Trump made good on his threat to impose 10 tariffs on the remaining $300 billion of Chinese goods imported to the U.S.

The trade war between China and the U.S., the world’s two largest economies, has rocked markets across the world for the last year and a half and contributed to a global economic slowdown that some economists believe could trigger a recession.

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Seth Moulton ends presidential campaign

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WASHINGTON — Rep. Seth Moulton, D-Mass., ended his 2020 presidential campaign on Friday, and announced his intention to seek a fourth House term.

“I will continue to fight for a new generation of leadership in our party and our country,” the Iraq War veteran, who failed to gain traction in a crowded presidential primary field, said in remarks to a Democratic National Committee meeting in San Francisco. “And most of all, I will be campaigning my a– off for whoever wins our nomination in 2020.”

Moulton is the third candidate to drop out of the race in the past eight days, following the exits of Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, who will seek a third term, and former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, who has decided to run for the Senate. Party insiders expect the field to be culled even further in the coming weeks as poor polling and barren campaign treasuries force more candidates to assess their reasons for continuing to run.

For Moulton, the campaign had presented an opportunity to raise his profile a little bit, create a larger network of donors and — his allies clearly hope — put himself in position to possibly join the administration if a Democrat wins the presidency.

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A memo his campaign team circulated to reporters ahead of the announcement focused on his national security and foreign policy credentials, as well as his appetite for taking on President Donald Trump in those areas. Moulton’s speech to fellow Democrats on Friday hit on those themes, too.

“We have been challenging Donald Trump where he’s weakest — as commander-in-chief — and showing this country that Democrats are the party of making America strong overseas and safe here at home,” Moulton said of his campaign.

He also highlighted his efforts to bring attention to the mental health needs of veterans, which grew out of his battles with post-traumatic stress.

“For the first time in my life, I talked publicly about dealing with post-traumatic stress from my four combat tours in Iraq,” he said. “And our team put forward a plan that will end the stigma around mental health — the same stigma that kept me silent for so long, and that kept every presidential candidate before me from talking about mental health struggles themselves.”

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Gay workers not covered by civil rights law, Trump admin tells Supreme Court

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The Trump administration Friday filed a brief with the Supreme Court arguing that gay workers are not protected by federal civil rights law. The filing came exactly one week after the administration argued the same for transgender workers.

The brief was submitted in combined cases concerning Gerald Bostock, a gay man fired from his job as a child welfare services worker by Clayton County, Georgia, and the late Donald Zarda, a gay man fired from his job as a skydiving instructor by New York company Altitude Express. The Bostock and Zarda cases are two of three cases concerning LGBTQ workers’ rights that the Supreme Court is expected to hear this fall.

Julie Moreau contributed.



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