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Asian Markets Move Lower After US Stock Plunge

Stock markets in Asia and Europe saw declines Tuesday, but did not suffer losses as steep as those Monday in U.S. markets where continued fears about a U.S.-China trade war and a verbal attack on an online retailer by President Donald Trump sent stocks lower.

China’s Shanghai Composite Index finished down about 0.84 percent, while Japan’s Nikkei fell about one-half percent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng rallied in afternoon trading to close up about one-quarter percent.

Early trading sent markets in Britain and Germany lower.

The U.S. Down Jones Industrial Average closed down 1.9 percent Monday, while the Standard & Poor’s 500 dropped 2.3 percent and the NASDAQ fell nearly three percent.

Trump has strongly criticized online giant Amazon three times in the last few days. Amazon 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!” 

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.

“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,” said Atsi Sheth, an analyst for Moody’s Investors Service.

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.”

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