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Stocks stumbled again on Wednesday as jitters about major technology and internet companies pushed investors toward their first quarterly fall in equity markets in two years.

Amazon.com Inc, Netflix Inc and Apple Inc , once market leaders, mutated into an albatross just one day after concerns about other technology names sent stocks down sharply.

Amazon fell 4.4 per cent after reports that U.S. President Donald Trump is looking to target the company by changing its tax treatment.

The 47-country MSCI global index sank 0.7 per cent, enough to send traders piling back into the safety of bonds.

Safe-haven 10-year U.S. Treasury notes rose in price to yield 2.777 per cent, the lowest since early February’s market meltdown.

That decline in yields chipped away at the spread between 2-year Treasuries, which yield 2.282 per cent, and longer-term bonds. Some investors see a narrowing between those bonds’ yields as a sign the economy will sputter.

“There’s a general rotation from risky assets towards safe-haven assets ... with weakened equities and trade war tensions in the general backdrop,” said ING rates strategist Benjamin Schroeder.

The market’s losses were extended after China’s state-run Global Times reported that Beijing would soon announce a list of retaliatory tariffs on United States imports, reigniting fears of a U.S.-China trade war.

Apple dropped 1.1 per cent after Goldman Sachs cut its March and June quarter sales estimates for the iPhone, citing weak demand.

Wednesday’s stock rout came after tech woes had given the Nasdaq its worst day since June 2016 on Tuesday.

Facebook Inc and Twitter Inc sank on Tuesday over data privacy concerns. Those social media shares pared their losses from the day prior after Facebook adjusted privacy settings to give users more control over their information.

Nvidia, by contrast, added another day of losses after the chipmaker temporarily suspended self-driving tests across the globe after an Uber autonomous vehicle killed a woman.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 9.29 points, or 0.04 perc ent, to 23,848.42, the S&P 500 lost 7.62 points, or 0.29 per cent, to 2,605 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 59.58 points, or 0.85 per cent, to 6,949.23.

Canada’s main stock index closed at a six-week low on Wednesday as a retreat in gold and oil prices weighed on mining and energy companies, though a bounce in retailers helped curb declines.

The Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index fell 46.24 points, or 0.3 percent, to 15,169.94.

Gold miners were the biggest drag on materials sector with First Quantum Ltd. falling over 7 per cent and Franco-Nevada Corp. dropping 4 per cent. Barrick Gold Corp. lost 1.1 per cent, while Teck Resources Ltd. was down 2.5 per cent as gold eased from Tuesday’s near six-week highs.

The energy sector was the also down as oil prices slipped from 2018 peaks after a report showed a surprisingly large increase in U.S. crude inventories.

Lululemon Athletica Inc’s U.S.-listed shares gained nearly 10 per cent after the athletic apparel maker reported a surprisingly strong fourth-quarter profit and forecast further growth in the first quarter.

Hudson’s Bay fell 2.6 per cent after the department store operator’s quarterly profit missed expectations as a tough retail environment weighed sales and margins.

Globally, the pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index rose 0.53 per cent.

Asian stocks traded 1.75 perc ent lower, with Japan’s Nikkei ending down 1.3 per cent and top Chinese internet stock Tencent down 4.6 per cent.

Since hitting a record high on Jan. 26, world stocks have been battered by worries about rising inflation, the pace of U.S. interest rate hikes and the possibility of a global trade war. The MSCI global index is down 9 per cent from its high this year.

“We are rotating from the old regime of low interest rates and growth stocks like the FAANGs (Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix and Google parent Alphabet Inc) into a new world where that paradigm is rocked and that creates volatility,” said SEB Investment Management’s global head of asset allocation Hans Peterson.

The report that Beijing plans to announce retaliatory tariffs against Trump’s plans for tariffs on up to $60-billion of Chinese goods was also rekindling worries about a Sino-U.S. trade war.

“The market is still nervous, and there’s a feeling you never know what Trump will do. But excessive wariness is likely to gradually wane,” said Hiroshi Watanabe, economist at Sony Financial Holdings.

The dollar got some respite from its recent sell-off as revised fourth-quarter data showed U.S. economic growth slowed less than previously estimated and revealed the biggest gain in consumer spending in three years.

The dollar index rose 0.8 per cent, with the Japanese yen weakening 1.50 per cent at 106.94 per dollar.

Dollar gains put pressure on commodities. Spot gold dropped 1.4 per cent to $1,325.21 an ounce.

U.S. crude oil futures settled at $64.38 per barrel, down 1.3 per cent, after data from the Energy Information Administration showed a surprise build in U.S. crude stockpiles.

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Tickers mentioned in this story

Study and track financial data on any traded entity: click to open the full quote page. Data updated as of 17/05/24 4:00pm EDT.

SymbolName% changeLast
AMZN-Q
Amazon.com Inc
+0.58%184.7
ABX-T
Barrick Gold Corp
+2.06%24.33
FNV-T
Franco-Nevada Corp
+2.02%174.75
TECK-B-T
Teck Resources Ltd Cl B
+3.67%73.22
TSLA-Q
Tesla Inc
+1.5%177.46
LULU-Q
Lululemon Athletica
-0.98%334.95

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