China/US trade war fears prompting big day of losses on Wall Street

Wall Street has tumbled in a broad sell-off led by declines in big internet and technology shares, and the benchmark S&P 500 index posted its biggest weekly percentage drop since March as concerns over US-China trade tensions and interest rates convulsed Wall Street.

Concerns over China-US trade tensions sank US stocks on Friday, overshadowing the lift from higher oil prices and jobs data.

The trade standoff between Washington and Beijing continues to be a major lingering worry for investors.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 558.72 points, or 2.24 percent, to 24,388.95, the S&P 500 lost 62.87 points, or 2.33 percent, to 2,633.08 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 219.01 points, or 3.05 percent, to 6,969.25.

Wall Street saw its biggest weekly losses since March, led by declines in big internet and technology shares.

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Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.
Camera IconTraders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.Picture: AFP, Spencer Platt/Getty Images/AFP

The fall was a reversal from earlier in the day, when stocks were higher on US labour data that showed employers hired fewer workers than expected in November. That supported a view that US growth is moderating and the US Federal Reserve may stop raising rates sooner than previously thought.

Non-farm payrolls increased by 155,000 last month, but missed economists’ expectation for a rise of 200,000.

“It is still consistent with the Fed raising short-term interest rates, said Scott Brown, chief economist at Raymond James in St. Petersburg, Florida.

“But I think the main theme here is that investors are expecting the Fed to be even more gradual, a little bit more cautious, in raising interest rates in 2019.”

Oil climbed after big Middle East producers in OPEC agreed to reduce output to drain global fuel inventories and support the market.

US crude rose 1.42 per cent to $US52.22 per barrel and Brent was last at $US61.39, up 2.21 per cent on the day.

The US dollar weakened against major currencies after the US jobs data. The US dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of six other currencies, fell 0.17 per cent, with the euro up 0.24 per cent to $US1.1401.