Trump says stock market is 'way up'

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Trade war fears heightened after China responded to U.S. President Donald Trump's plan on Thursday to put tariffs on up to $60 billion of Chinese goods by announcing plans of its own to hit up to $3 billion of U.S. imports with tariffs.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped more than 700 points as of the market's close, while the S&P 500 fell 2.5 percent to its lowest point since early February.

In Toronto, the TSX is down nearly 178 points at 15,497 while the FTSE 100 closed down below 7,000 at 6,953 for the first time since December of 2016 as traders still worry about the possibility of an interest rate hike in May, despite the Bank of England's decision to keep rates intact today.

China, while urging the United States to "pull back from the brink", disclosed its own plans Friday to slap tariffs on up to $3 billion of USA imports, deepening fears that the world's two largest economies are heading into a trade war, with potentially dire consequences for the global economy.

The Dow lost 424 points, or 1.8 percent, to 23,533. The S&P 500 fell 68 points, or 2.52 percent, closing at 2,644.

Bonds rallied, driving yields lower, as investors fled equities.

Initial concerns about Trump's tariffs on aluminum and steel relaxed after the administration softened its stance by offering exemptions for Canada and Mexico.

Trade war fears wiped more than 1,100 points off the Dow in just two days.

The plunges came after President Donald Trump ordered tariffs on Chinese goods, describing the United States trade deficit with China as "out of control".

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The index ended down 1.2 per cent at 6,952.59 points to a 15-month low.

The U.S. Trade Representative identified 1,300 product lines as potential targets, including aerospace, information and communication technology, and machinery.

"I think the stock market is going to be great", he said Friday at the White House after a reporter asked about the sell-off.

"The stakes have been raised, especially now that it appears that President Trump is singling out China", said Jack Ablin, chief investment officer at Cresset Wealth Advisors. Bank of America lost $1.32, or 4.1 percent, to $30.55 and JPMorgan Chase gave up $4.79, or 4.2 percent, to $109.95.

The Cboe Volatility Index jumped 31% to 23.35, returning back above its long-term average of 20 on Thursday (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/wall-streets-fear-index-jumps-20-amid-stock-selloff-2018-03-22).

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude shed 76 cents, or 1.2 percent, to $64.41 a barrel in NY. Fellow social media giant Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) is also down for the fifth-consecutive session at 2.3% again at US$165.68 as the fallout from the Cambridge Analytica scandal and its improper use of its members' data widens. On Thursday, they fell 2.7 percent. Brent crude, used to price global oils, lost 66 cents, or 1 percent, to $68.41 a barrel in London. The 2.9 percent decline was the worst since February 8.

Wholesale gasoline remained at $2.01 a gallon.

Gold edged up $5.90 to $1,327.40 an ounce. Heating oil added 3 cents to $2.02 a gallon. Core capital goods rose 1.8%, up from a 0.4% decline in January, and vs. estimates for a 0.7% gain. Natural gas dipped 3 cents to $2.59 per 1,000 cubic feet.

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