Stocks open lower as trade jitters persist

Monday's tumble came after China imposed $3 billion of tariffs on US farm goods and other exports, bringing the world's two largest economies closer to a full-on trade conflict. The index, the Federal Reserve's preferred measure of inflation, has been below the USA central bank's 2 percent target since mid-2012. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 1.2% while the S&P 500 was up 1% and the Nasdaq Composite Index was up 0.9%. So while the Nasdaq 100 Index would have to fall about 11 percent to find valuation support on this metric, assuming forward earnings remain static at current levels, the S&P 500 Index would require only a 6 percent discount.

The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks sank 36.90 points, or 2.4 percent, to 1,492.53.

Wells Fargo's Investment Institute expects the S&P 500 will finish the year in the 2,800-2,900 point range, about 300 points higher than where it was trading on Monday. UnitedHealth UNH.N rose 1.6 percent, one of the two Dow Industrials trading higher in the session. The Nasdaq composite fell 19 points, or 0.3 percent, to 7,044. Losses were widespread across all 12 sectors of the market, with consumer goods (2.8 percent), technology (2.4 percent) and financials (2.1 percent) taking the hardest hits. There are a number of points of contention between China and Washington, Europe and Japan over a state-led economic model they complain hampers market access, protects Chinese companies and subsidizes exports in violation of Beijing's free-trade commitments.

Amazon.com rose almost 2 per cent, after closing down more than 5 per cent yesterday after President Donald Trump's latest attack on the online retailer.

The May crude contract closed down $1.93 at US$63.01 per barrel and the May natural gas contract ended down five cents at US$2.68 per mmBTU.

Trump once again accused Amazon of taking advantage of the US Postal Service.

More news: Iceland leaders to snub W' Cup

Large technology companies also saw their shares continue to slump, with Amazon (AMZN), Apple (AAPL), Google-parent Alphabet (GOOGL) and Facebook (FB) all seeing declines on the day.

Amazon fell another $70.84, or 4.9 percent, to $1,376.50. Most European markets were closed for the Easter holiday.

COMMODITIES: Benchmark U.S. crude lost $1.71, or 2.7 percent, to $63.23 a barrel in NY.

Stocks took as nosedive as soon as trading began Monday. The tax on US goods could include pork, soybeans and fruit as well as aircraft.

The electric automaker's losses extend last week's near 14-per cent decline as investigations of a fatal California crash and a Moody's credit downgrade weighed on the stock.

Energy companies skidded as benchmark USA crude lost $1.93, or 3 percent, to $63.01 a barrel in NY. Hong Kong's Hang Seng bucked the trend, ending up 0.2 per cent at 30,137.49. Brent crude, used to price global oils, slid $1.52, or 2.2 percent, to $67.82 a barrel in London.

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