March 1, 2018: Markets opened mixed Thursday and after dithering around the break-even line in the morning took a decidedly negative turn in the afternoon. The President’s promise of a 25% tariff on steel imports and a 10% tariff on aluminum conjured images of an international trade war that investors would rather not see happen. Trump said the orders would be signed next week. Aluminum and steel makers’ stocks came up aces though.
WTI crude oil for April delivery settled at $60.99 a barrel, down 1.1% for the day. April gold dropped 1% on the day to settle at $1,305.20, it’s lowest level of the year to date. Equities were headed for a lower close about 10 minutes before the bell as the Dow traded down 1.73% for the day, the S&P 500 traded down 1.41%, and the Nasdaq Composite traded down 1.29%.
Bitcoin futures (XBTH8) for March delivery traded at $11,030, up about 3.3% on the CBOE after opening at $10,500 this morning. The digital currency’s trading range for the day was $10,200 to $11,050.
The Dow stock posting the largest daily percentage loss ahead of the close Thursday was The Boeing Co. (NYSE: BA) which traded down 3.36% at $350.05. The stock’s 52-week range is $173.75 to $371.60. Volume was nearly 30% above the daily average of around 5.2 million shares. The company had no specific news Thursday, but a trade war would likely see some tariffs slapped on Boeing planes by its international customers.
Intel Corp. (NASDAQ: INTC) traded down 3.31% at $47.66. The stock’s 52-week range is $33.23 to $50.90. Volume was about 20% below the daily average of around 34.6 million shares. The company had no specific news.
United Technologies Corp. (NYSE: UTX) traded down 3.21% at $130.41. The stock’s 52-week range is $107.05 to $139.24. Volume was roughly equal to the daily average of about 4.7 million. The company had no specific news.
Caterpillar Inc. (NYSE: CAT) traded down 3.14% at $149.78. The stock’s 52-week range is $90.34 to $173.24. Volume was about 40% below the daily average of around 5.6 million. The company had no specific news Thursday, but Cat is another firm that could pay a big price in a trade war.
Of the Dow stocks, just 3 are on track to close higher Thursday and 27 are set to close lower.