China's deputy finance minister, Zhu Guangyao, reiterated China's position that it does not want a trade war, but will retaliate proportionally to USA tariffs. Household goods makers, retailers and homebuilders led the way while technology companies reversed some early losses.
The government agency later estimates that intellectual property theft by China costs the U.S. "between $225 billion and $600 billion" every year.
"The most likely outcome is smoke, but no fire", said Bill Adams, senior worldwide economist at PNC Financial. The Nasdaq 100 Index lost 1.22% to 6,380.
On the continent, the pan-European STOXX 600 index was down 4.29 points, or 1.16 per cent after a flat open.
China's State Council, the equivalent of the USA cabinet, said that the tariffs will hit 106 products totalling $50 billion of Chinese imports from the US.
As the trade conflict between the USA and China intensifies, the markets continue to evidence investors' anxiety - starting the trading day Wednesday in the red across the three major US indexes.
Industrial companies were rocked.
Boeing shares fell 7.2 percent in pre-market trading.
Whilst markets are correct in pricing in a higher degree of uncertainty, a full trade war as suggested by the recent sharp drops in global equities seems unlikely.
Beijing has said it would place 25 per cent trade tariffs on 106 United States goods, including soybeans, cars and orange juice.
But that "does not mean there isn't going to be a political backlash", he said. The Asian nation is the world's largest importer, and is America's biggest buyer of the oilseed.
After starting down more than 400 points or 1.75 percent, the Dow was only down by about 0.6 percent by late morning. Germany's 10-year yield dipped one basis point to 0.49%, the lowest in 12 weeks.
Another economy at risk is the semi-autonomous Hong Kong, which is a gateway for much of the trade that flows between mainland China and the US. Most other Asian indexes had closed before China announced its response to the US tariff plans.
Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross dismissed fears the trade confrontation could endanger the world's largest economies. "While U.S. tariffs on all consumer goods average just 1.3 percent, they average 11 percent for footwear and reach rates as high as 67.5 percent". The global economy is expected to grow 3.9 percent this year, which would be its strongest showing in seven years, according to the International Monetary Fund. China could turn to other markets to satisfy its needs if the United States is belligerent.
"We have the confidence and ability to respond to any USA trade protectionist measures", the MOC spokesperson said. Sometimes tariffs are used to raise the price of imported products so that they don't undercut domestic products.
After a big early loss, USA crude dipped 14 cents to $63.37 a barrel in NY while Brent crude, used to price global oils, fell 9 cents to $68.03 a barrel in London.
Wholesale gasoline stayed at $1.98 a gallon. Heating oil lost 2 cents to $1.98 a gallon. Natural gas rose 2 cents to $2.72 per 1,000 cubic feet.
He later doubled down in a second tweet: "When you're already $500 Billion DOWN, you can't lose!"
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