Fed Chair Powell: No evidence of 'decisive' move up in wages

EUR/USD Forecast: One More Support Line Left To Fight After Powell's Power Play

As a candidate, Trump campaigned on an "America First" trade policy, and a big fear for investors has been that increasingly nationalistic governments will impose barriers that hurt the global economy and trade, as well as profits for USA exporters.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said the European Union will take retaliatory action if Trump goes ahead with his plan.

The S&P 500 was down 9 points, or 0.3%, to 2,705, with eight of the 11 main sectors trading lower.

USA stocks fell on Thursday, dragging the Dow Jones Industrial Average down for the year, after President Donald Trump announced substantial steel and aluminum tariffs.

Best Buy jumped around 5 percent after it reported for the fourth quarter, recovering from falls overnight due to the USA consumer electronics retailer's announcement of 250 small mobile phone store closures.

Bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year Treasury fell to 2.80 percent.

Those comments sent the Dow Jones industrial average down by 299 points as investors grew more concerned about rising interest rates.

Peter Tuz, president of Chase Investment Counsel in Charlottesville, Virginia, called Trump's proposed tariffs a "bombshell" announcement that might help the steel and aluminum industry but ultimately hurt US stocks. Aerospace giant Boeing lost $12.52, or 3.5 percent, to $349.69.

Big exporters like Apple and drugmaker Pfizer, which would suffer if trade tensions picked up, also fell.

More news: Horror As Doctors In Kenya Perform Brain Surgery On The Wrong Patient

The S&P 500 was down 1.1 percent as of 1:11 p.m.in NY.

Wall Street looked set for another weak open, futures signaled, after it ended February with its worst monthly performance in two years.

The Stoxx Europe 600 fell 1.3 percent. The Nasdaq composite fell 127 points, or 1.8 percent, to 7,142.

Investors were also focused on the level of optimism Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell expressed about economic growth: The stronger his optimism, the more likely the US central bank will become more aggressive in raising the benchmark lending rate to restrain inflation.

Dental supplies maker Patterson Companies plunged 22 percent after reporting weak earnings for the latest quarter. The Dow fell almost 300 points that afternoon and plunged another 380.83 Wednesday, closing at 25,029.20. The concerns at one point helped knock the S&P 500 down 10 percent from its record high, set in late January. It plummeted to 129.86 against the yen, it steepest decline since the early part of September and down 5.6 percent from its 2-and-a-half-year high, which was hit only a month ago.

Losses in industrial and health care stocks are pulling major US indexes lower in morning trading on Wall Street. Shares of the company, which sells dental and animal health products, dropped $7.47, or 23.7 percent, to $24.11.

"The market is responding to a series of cross-currents", Quincy Krosby, chief market strategist at Prudential Financial Inc., said by phone.

Steel makers were sharply higher following reports that the government would announce tariffs on imported steel. Meanwhile, a report on USA manufacturing activity unexpectedly rose to a near-14 year high, with the prices-paid component coming in at the highest since May 2011.

Oil fell more than 1 percent, hitting two-week lows on pressure from a strong dollar and worries that surging USA crude output might thwart efforts by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries to drain global supply.

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