Markets

Dow drops nearly 550 points, sending its two-day loss total to nearly 1,400 points

Stock prices were displayed Thursday at a securities firm in Beijing. Trade tensions with China are weighing on stocks.
Nicolas Asfouri/AFP/Getty Images
Stock prices were displayed Thursday at a securities firm in Beijing. Trade tensions with China are weighing on stocks.

BEIJING — US markets suffered deeper losses Thursday, following on a global rout as investors lost their nerve over rising US interest rates and fresh worries about an economic slowdown.

Concerns about US-China ties weighed heavily, too. US markets rebounded briefly after it was announced that President Trump would meet with Chinese leader Xi Jinping at next month’s G-20 summit in Buenos Aires to discuss the intensifying trade conflict.

The Dow Jones industrial average ended the day down 2.1 percent, or 546 points, to 25,052. It pushed the two-day loss to nearly 1,400 points. The broad-index Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index was off 2 percent, to 2,728. The tech-heavy Nasdaq notched its second day of trouble with a 1.3 percent loss, landing at 7,329.

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The markets landed in the red despite a government report that showed consumer prices rose 0.1 percent last month, less than expected.

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Ivan Feinseth, an analyst with Tigress Financial, was optimistic about the strength of the economy and called the sell-off an ‘‘incredible buying opportunity.’’

The current panic might be quelled, he said, by de-escalation in the US trade war with China. It could also bolster faith in the tech sector, which was pummeled in the past two days.

‘‘Any kind of softening of the tensions with China would be a huge catalyst for the market,’’ Feinseth said.

After the Dow dropped 832 points Wednesday, one of the worst sell-offs since February, Trump strongly criticized the Fed for tightening rates, again signaling that he wanted interest rates to remain low.

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‘‘The Fed is making a mistake. They’re so tight. I think the Fed has gone crazy,’’ he told reporters while traveling in Pennsylvania on Wednesday. ‘‘It’s a correction that we’ve been waiting for, for a long time. But I really disagree with what the Fed is doing, OK?’’

Early Thursday, National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow in a news conferfence heralded the administration’s economic policies and assured the public that ‘‘the war on business is over.’’

‘‘We are the hottest economy in the world right now,’’ Kudlow said. ‘‘With all due respect, I don’t think this is anything resembling a sugar high.’’

Michael Farr, chief executive of Farr, Miller & Washington, said the Fed might be nudged into slowing its pace of raising rates, but that this cycle — of panic and gradual calming — would probably continue.

‘‘What I expect to see is spates of this realization that the Fed has changed course,’’ Farr said. ‘‘I think that will create these various episodes of discomfort and selling as Wall Street reprices this new reality.’’

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The real litmus test will be how the markets react to third-quarter earnings reports over the next few weeks, and how the retail market delivers for the holiday season, said Howard Silverblatt, a senior analyst with S&P Dow Jones Indices.

‘‘Volatility and concern is high,’’ Silverblatt said. ‘‘Hopefully earnings will take us away, and we can focus on the fundamentals.’’

After US tech shares plummeted Wednesday, Chinese Internet giant Tencent, Asia’s largest company by market capitalization and a major factor in the Hong Kong Hang Seng Index, was battered. By end of US trading Thursday, Tencent had announced that it would delay its planned initial public offering because of the market retreat.

Jitters were already running high, thanks to the trade war between China and the United States, which has shown few signs of being resolved any time soon.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin met with Chinese central banker Yi Gang at a World Bank conference in Indonesia on Thursday, a day after he warned China against ‘‘competitive devaluation’’ of its currency against the US dollar as the trade war escalates.

Yi did not tell reporters how the meeting with Mnuchin went, but told the Chinese financial magazine Caixin that China was on course to hit its GDP growth targets despite concerns about the trade war and debt levels.

The renminbi had fallen ‘‘significantly’’ during the year and the Treasury Department is monitoring this ‘‘very carefully’’ to make sure China wasn’t manipulating its currency to gain an advantage in the trade war, Mnuchin told the Financial Times.

He said he wanted to discuss the currency with Beijing as part of the trade talks. ‘‘As we look at trade issues there is no question that we want to make sure China is not doing competitive devaluations,’’ he told the business newspaper.

Separately, the Treasury Department issued new rules on foreign investments into American companies, strengthening its power to block them on national security grounds. China has been the main target for these rules.

This ongoing friction is likely to suppress markets for some time, analysts said.

‘‘As uncertainty continues to prevail in financial markets across the world, many investors are staying on the sidelines until more clarity emerges in US Treasury and Chinese markets,’’ said Yasuo Sakuma, chief investment officer at Libra Investments, according to Reuters.