The S&P 500 and the Dow Industrials reversed course to trade lower on Friday, while the Nasdaq gave up nearly all gains after President Donald Trump said fresh tariffs are ready to go on $267 billion worth of Chinese imports.
Trump`s latest salvo in the trade dispute comes as the world awaits his decision on imposing levies on $200 billion worth of the Asian nation`s goods.
The United States and Japan have begun trade discussions, Trump said, adding Tokyo "knows it`s a big deal" if an agreement cannot be reached.
"Trump comments are one of those wild cards that spring out of the blue and take down the markets," said Gary Bradshaw, portfolio manager with Hodges Funds in Dallas, Texas.
Eight of the 11 major S&P sectors were lower. The industrial index fell 0.65 percent, with shares of trade-sensitive companies Boeing and Caterpillar down 1.6 percent and 0.9 percent, respectively. The S&P materials index fell 0.84 percent.
Earlier, White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said Trump will not make any decisions on tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods before officials evaluated public comments.
U.S. stocks have had a bit of a roller-coaster on Friday, dipping at the open after strong August jobs data led to rate-hike jitters, before Kudlow`s comments brought a measure of relief.
At 12:50 a.m. ET the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 133.83 points, or 0.51 percent, at 25,862.04, the S&P 500 was down 6.09 points, or 0.21 percent, at 2,871.96 and the Nasdaq Composite was up 2.26 points, or 0.03 percent, at 7,924.98.
The defensive real estate index fell 1.11 percent, the most among sectors, while utilities followed with a 0.93 percent drop.
The technology index, which was leading the markets higher earlier, reversed course to drop 0.04 percent. The Philadelphia SE Semiconductor index also gave up gains to trade flat.
Chipmaker Broadcom held on to its gains and was last up 6.7 percent after a strong current-quarter revenue forecast.
Marvell Technology though gave up most of its gains and was last up 0.3 percent. The chipmaker raised its forecast for synergies around the Cavium acquisition that analysts said removed risks around further growth.
Tesla slid 6.4 percent following the latest top management exits and on mounting investor concerns about Chief Executive Elon Musk`s behavior after he smoked marijuana on a live webcast.
Declining issues outnumbered advancers for a 2.52-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and for a 1.23-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.
The S&P index recorded 36 new 52-week highs and 16 new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 87 new highs and 53 new lows.