Trump’s tariffs plan batters industrial stocks

Market report: Irish stock market remains closed but rest of Europe slumps on fears of trade war

The Irish Stock Exchange in Dublin was closed on Friday due to the inclement weather. European shares fell to six-month lows after Donald Trump said the US would impose tariffs on imported steel and aluminium, prompting worries about a global trade war.

Such concerns sparked a broad sell-off in Europe, weighing particularly on the export-oriented German DAX index, which fell 2.3 per cent to a six-month low.

The UK's top share index hit its lowest level in more than a year on the concerns over trade disputes and also as a speech by Prime Minister Theresa May left many unconvinced that a post-Brexit deal with the EU was any closer.

US stocks were mixed, with mega caps bearing the brunt of selling and small capitalization shares rallying, while US Treasuries slipped with the dollar as investors assessed the impact of a potential trade war.



The FTSE was down 1.5 per cent at its lowest since December 2016, unnerved by Mr Trump’s promise to tax aluminium and steel imports.

London-listed steel producer Evraz was down 0.9 per cent, as fears of rising US protectionism hit the share prices of European steelmakers.

Shares in miners Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton, which have large iron ore exposure, were more than 3 per cent lower and among the biggest FTSE 100 fallers.

Rentokil rebounded after falling during the previous session on disappointing 2017 results. The British business services group gained 3.6 per cent.

Paper and packaging firm Mondi was the biggest gainer, up nearly 4 per cent after announcing a special dividend after resuming profit growth.

London Stock Exchange Group fell 2.7 per cent after reporting its 2017 results as traders noted higher costs.

British engineering company GKN was down 3.5 per cent. It said it was in talks with Dana Incorporated over its auto unit, opening up a new front in an attempt to fight off a hostile £7 billion (€7.8 billion) bid from Melrose Industries.


All sectors were trading in negative territory, with autos down 2.3 per cent, weighed down by a near-6 per cent slump in Italian-American car maker Fiat Chrysler on concerns that the US tariff move could increase raw material costs.

Elsewhere, Germany's Volkswagen, Daimler and BMW and France's Peugeot fell between 1.6 to 2.4 per cent. Steel and aluminium stocks were also generally lower, with ArcelorMittal, Salzgitter and Norsk Hydro all down 0.9 to 5.2 per cent.

Swedish radiation therapy equipment maker Elekta, up 13.2 per cent, led gainers on the STOXX after it reported above-forecast earnings, while IMI dropped 8.5 per cent as its trading update disappointed.

The STOXX ended the week down 3.7 per cent ahead of events this Sunday in Italy and Germany that could raise new jitters over the political future of Europe, as Brexit talks with the UK continue.

New York

The Dow industrials fell more than 1 per cent for a fourth straight day on Friday on mounting fears of a global trade war following Mr Trump’s promise to impose import tariffs on steel and aluminium.

Declines since Mr Trump's announcement on Thursday have turned the Dow negative for the year. Shares of Boeing Caterpillar and 3M were among the biggest drags on the index.

Heading into afternoon trading, the Dow was down 1.2 per cent on Friday. The S&P 500 fell 0.63 per cent and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 0.49 per cent. Investors flocked towards traditional safe havens including Japan's yen and gold.

JC Penney Co shares plunged 8.7 per cent after the department store chain missed same store sales estimates. Foot Locker shares were down 16 per cent after the footwear retailer posted disappointing quarterly results.

(Additional reporting: Bloomberg/Reuters)

Mark Paul

Mark Paul

Mark Paul is London Correspondent for The Irish Times