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After Trump’s Steel and Aluminum Trade Tariff Announcement, Dow Drops Another 300 Points

March 2, 2018, 6:00 PM UTC

Investors aren’t taking news of President Donald Trump’s steel and aluminum tariffs well.

After dropping over 400 points on Thursday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped yet another 300 or so, to 24,200 in mid-day trading on Friday—its lowest since mid-February. The selloff came after Trump promised 25% tariffs on steel imports, and 10% on aluminum imports, sparking threats of a trade war from Canada and the European Union, alongside fears of another with China.

And Wall Street is not taking the changes lightly.

“This will increase fears of retaliation, and concerns may grow about a possible collapse of negotiations on the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which is on thin ice already,” wrote Heights’s Greg Valliere. “Ironically, U.S. businesses are largely opposed to tough new trade policies.”

Markets surged following Trump’s election in 2016, largely banking on his promises of lower taxes and reduce regulations. His protectionist rhetoric however, was largely ignored. Now, advisors appear to be taking the tariffs more seriously.

“The net effect of the tariffs, then, will be economic damage, higher inflation, and greater geopolitical uncertainty,” wrote Brad McMillan, chief investment officer of Commonwealth Financial Network. “On the corporate side, it will be lower profits for the vast majority of companies. On the consumer side, it will be higher prices for many goods and, likely, lost jobs in export industries.”

Indeed, markets fell into a correction in February on fears of higher inflation—and therefore more interest rate hikes. Such increases in the interest rate from the Federal Reserve generally lead to a lower stock market.

Not all, however, is doom and gloom. Should a trade war erupt, the Fed would likely pause any rate hikes, says Fundstrat’s Thomas Lee.

And, says Evercore ISI’s Terry Haines, investors should hold their breath for the time being. Notably, Trump’s tariffs have not been revealed in their final form—which could include exemptions that dampen some investor concerns.

“Investors also should expect other important details in Trump’s final decision that will have significant market implications, particularly a Secretary Ross-run exemptions/exclusions process that has been missed or ignored by commentators but we think will be adopted and is intended to turn the tariffs into more targeted and less indiscriminate weapons that would mitigate at least some of their market impact,” Haines wrote in a Friday note.