Wall Street resumes slide on economic, trade fears


NEW YORK (AFP) - Wall Street reversed early gains on Tuesday (May 28) and slid into the red as investors grew nervous about the economic outlook and bond rates sank.

The declines sent major indices to their lowest levels in two months and compounded losses for May, which is now likely to be the first down month for Wall Street this year.

In a sign of concern for economic growth, rates on the 10-year US Treasury bond touched 2.261 per cent, the lowest level since September 2017.

After starting the day higher, the Dow Jones Industrial Average swung more than 350 points to close down more than 0.9 per cent at 25,347.77.

Meanwhile, the broader S&P 500 lost 0.8 per cent, closing at 2,802.39, and the tech-heavy Nasdaq lost 0.4 per cent to settle at 7,607.35. Not since March had either index been so low.

"The stock market is hesitating while the bond market seems to be of a pretty strong view that the world economy is slowing," Karl Haeling of LBBW told AFP.

"Also, from a psychological perspective, the stock market tends to underperform in May so a lot of buyers just want to wait until the end of the month."

The 10-year Treasury bill, which has been in steady decline since November, was below rates on the three-month Treasury bill on Tuesday, inverting a portion of the yield curve in a sign investors believe economic output will decline.

An index of US consumer confidence on Tuesday registered an unexpectedly strong jump for May, pointing to sustained retail spending in the second quarter of 2019.

But other segments of the US economy, including business investment and sales of manufactured goods as well as a slowing services sector, have raised concerns of late.

Investors were also absorbing signals on trade negotiations from Washington, Tokyo and Beijing, with the US and Chinese sides showing no signs they were any closer to resolving their dispute.

Duty rates on about US$60 billion (S$80 billion) in US exports to China are due to rise on Saturday in retaliation for President Donald Trump's decision to jack up tariffs on US$200 billion in Chinese imports, claiming Beijing had backpedalled on its commitments in trade talks.

Among individual companies, Fiat Chrysler jumped 7.2 per cent after offering to merge with France's Renault.