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Jan. 3, 2019 / 2:36 PM GMT / Updated 9:06 PM GMT
By Lucy Bayly
The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed sharply down on Thursday as investors digested some of the strongest indications yet that President Donald Trump’s protectionist policies are having a negative impact on American companies and the broader global economy.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed down 660 points, the broader S&P 500 fell by almost 2.5 percent, and the tech-heavy Nasdaq was down 3 percent.
Apple Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook warned Wednesday in a public letter to investors that sales were impacted by a slowdown in China, telling CNBC in an interview that “the trade tensions between the United States and China put additional pressure on their economy.”
Tesla has slashed prices on some of its models in China in order to absorb the impact of tariffs, saying it is currently operating on a 55 to 60 percent cost disadvantage.
On the retail front, Chinese shoppers will account for 45 percent of the luxury market by 2025, according to one report. A slowdown in that nation’s economy would have a widespread global impact from a nation of 1.4 billion people.
China is not the only partner with whom Trump is sparring — he slapped tariffs on imports from the European Union in June, prompting a retaliatory response from that trading bloc. That, in turn, prompted Harley-Davidson to shift production overseas for some of its motorcycles, saying tariffs would add $2,200 to each motorcycle exported from the U.S. to the E.U.
The ongoing trade skirmish between the U.S. and its closest trading partners began last summer when Trump imposed a 25 percent tariff on steel and aluminum imported from China to punish that country for what the White House considers to be unfair trade practices.
“They’re playing chicken and so far, I don’t see anybody blinking,” said Michael O. Moore, an economics professor at George Washington University. “Many businesses are quite afraid about where this is all going.”
Lucy Bayly is the business editor for NBC News.
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