US stocks tumble on trade war fears; Dow down 1 per cent

US stocks fell Wednesday after President Donald Trump sought to impose fresh tariffs on China.

NEW YORK (AFP) - Wall Street stocks tumbled again on Wednesday (March 14) on rising worries that the Trump administration's trade policies could ignite a global trade war.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 1 per cent to 24,758.12, its third straight decline.

The broad-based S&P 500 fell 0.6 per cent to 2,749.48, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index shed 0.2 per cent to 7,496.81.

The US announced on Wednesday it was taking action at the World Trade Organisation against Indian export subsidies.

The move comes as the White House is also considering slapping tariffs on billions of dollars in Chinese imports, particularly in the tech and telecommunications sector, in response to alleged improper practices involving American intellectual property.

"There's a lot of nervousness, especially related to trade issues," said Kate Warne, an investment strategist with Edward Jones.

"All of it seems to be far more protectionist than investors expected a few weeks ago. The increase in protectionism raises worries about retaliation and how much it could hamper global growth."

Boeing, which has been seen as particularly vulnerable to a trade war with China, dropped 2.5 per cent.

Other multinationals, including Caterpillar, United Technologies and General Electric, also fell.

Tesla Motors dropped 4.5 per cent following reports that some senior executives have left the company amid difficulty meeting the company's ambitious targets for increasing electric car production.

Qualcomm rose 0.7 per cent after Singapore-based Broadcom announced it was abandoning efforts to take over the company, two days after its bid was blocked by President Donald Trump over national security concerns.