On the heels of a proposed Trump Administration tariff on imported steel and aluminum, U.S. stocks fell sharply on Thursday. Fear mounted with traders around the possibility of future retaliation from foreign countries, causing a selloff that led to the Dow Jones Industrial Average losing 420.22 points (1.68 percent), according to the market index.
Stocks surged as trading commenced Thursday morning on the speculation that the White House would make the announcement before the end of trading. However, after it was revealed that the president would be postponing the announcement of steel and aluminum tariffs, the market fell by over two percent.
Recently, President Donald Trump announced to textile industry executives that a 25 percent tariff will be imposed on imported steel and 10 percent on imported aluminum. In the early afternoon, there was speculation that the tariffs will be in effect next week. Sources within the administration reportedly explained an announcement would not be coming Thursday as top trade advisers disagreed about the steps that should be taken for the implementation.
At 7:12 a.m., Trump took to Twitter to foreshadow the announcement that was reportedly set for Thursday:
“Our Steel and Aluminum industries (and many others) have been decimated by decades of unfair trade and bad policy with countries from around the world. We must not let our country, companies and workers be taken advantage of any longer. We want free, fair and SMART TRADE!”
According to CNBC, at midday, shares of U.S. Steel were trading at a six-year high, up 8.9 percent. Ohio-based AK Steel spiked 9.1 percent, with Century Aluminum up 6.8 percent, and Steel Dynamics up 3.3 percent.
Some industrial companies were victim to the market fluctuation. Construction and heavy equipment manufacturer Caterpillar fell by 3.4 percent at midday and aerospace giant Boeing lost 4.1 percent. Both companies rebounded as the trading session closed, but minutely.
In a report from NBC News, the Administration’s announcement to postpone the tariff talks came after reports of infighting between free trade and protectionist factions in the White House. Free trade supporters warned that imposing the tariffs could lead to trade wars that would negatively impact American industries ranging from agriculture to technology.
Speaking at the White House Thursday afternoon about the implementation of his campaign promise of an “America First” trade policy, President Trump said, “We’re going to be instituting tariffs next week.” He charged that officials carrying out past U.S. trade negotiations did not have a “clue” about trade deals.
The president added, “People have no idea how badly our country has been treated by other countries.”