WASHINGTON - U.S. stocks plunged again Monday after President Donald Trump unleashed a new verbal attack on giant online retailer Amazon and China fired its shot at U.S. imports in a developing trade war.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 589 points by the close, shedding 1.9 percent. The Standard & Poor's 500 dropped 2.3 percent while the NASDAQ fell nearly three percent at the end of trading.
Trump has strongly criticized Amazon three times in the last few days. Amazion founder Jeff Bezos also owns The Washington Post, whose revelatory stories on Trump and his administration frequently draw the president's ire.
The U.S. leader says Amazon's large-scale operations are detrimental to the business success of small retailers that cannot compete with its high-volume sales. Trump has also complained that the fees Amazon pays to the U.S. Postal Service to deliver merchandise the retailer sells are too low, costing the quasi-governmental agency hundreds of millions of dollars in annual revenue, although the Postal Service says its contract with Amazon is profitable.
"Only fools, or worse, are saying that our money losing Post Office makes money with Amazon," Trump said in his latest broadside against Amazon. "THEY LOSE A FORTUNE, and this will be changed. Also, our fully tax paying retailers are closing stores all over the country...not a level playing field!"
Only fools, or worse, are saying that our money losing Post Office makes money with Amazon. THEY LOSE A FORTUNE, and this will be changed. Also, our fully tax paying retailers are closing stores all over the country...not a level playing field!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 2, 2018
Since Trump started verbally attacking Amazon, the company has lost more than $37 billion in market value.
China's announcement that it is increasing duties on 128 categories of U.S. imports worth $3 billion in annual trade also worried investors. They fear Beijing's response to the Trump tariffs on $50 billion worth of Chinese imports could spark an all-out trade war between the world's two biggest economies.
Atsi Sheth, an analyst for Moody's Investors Service, said, "The importance of tariff announcements by both the U.S. and China lies in what they may portend for overall bilateral trade and investment relations between the two countries."
Late Monday, White House deputy press secretary Lindsay Walters issued a statement saying, in part, that China needs to stop "its unfair trading practices which are harming U.S. national security and distorting global markets."