August 23, 2018 / 3:57 PM / 2 months ago

US STOCKS-Wall St drops as trade worries weigh

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* Industrials hit by fresh round of U.S.-China tariffs

* Commodity prices fall, weighing on energy, material stocks

* All eyes on Powell speech at Jackson Hole on Friday

* Hormel Foods, Sanderson Farms drop as tariffs hit results

* Indexes down: Dow 0.45 pct, S&P 0.23 pct, Nasdaq 0.21 pct (Changes comment, updates prices)

By Shreyashi Sanyal

Aug 23 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks fell on Thursday, hurt by declines in commodity-related sectors and trade-sensitive companies as new trade tariffs came into effect in the U.S.-China trade war, although gains in technology shares helped limit losses.

The United States and China imposed fresh tariffs on $16 billion worth of each other’s goods, despite ongoing trade talks between the countries.

The trade-sensitive S&P industrials sector fell 0.51 percent. Caterpillar slid 2.2 percent and Boeing fell 1.2 percent, weighing on the Dow Industrials.

“If you are seeing pressure in the markets then it is probably from the realization that the tariffs begin today and that some of the big names in industrials could be weighing,” said Art Hogan, chief market strategist at B. Riley FBR in New York.

The energy index fell 0.83 percent and the materials index 0.93 percent as prices of crude oil and metals declined with the trade dispute escalating and the dollar rising on expectations of higher U.S. interest rates soon.

Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell’s speech at the Jackson Hole central bankers’ symposium on Friday will be keenly watched for clues on monetary policy, after minutes from the central bank’s most recent meeting showed further hikes are likely soon.

“Investors are waiting on Powell’s speech to figure out what kind of hike path the Fed is on,” said Michael Antonelli, managing director, institutional sales trading at Robert W. Baird in Milwaukee.

Financial stocks were down 0.55 percent. Only three of the 11 major S&P sectors were higher, with the technology index gaining 0.08 percent.

At 11:39 a.m. EDT the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 116.78 points, or 0.45 percent, at 25,616.82, the S&P 500 was down 6.59 points, or 0.23 percent, at 2,855.23 and the Nasdaq Composite was down 16.35 points, or 0.21 percent, at 7,872.75.

Data showed the number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits fell last week, a sign the labor market was holding firm despite trade tensions that have spawned restrictions on global commerce.

But U.S. meat producers have said increases in Chinese tariffs on beef and pork have led to domestic oversupply and forced price cuts for competing meat such as chicken.

Shares of Hormel Foods fell 3.1 percent and Sanderson Farms 1.4 percent after they posted disappointing results, laying the blame partly on tariffs.

Victoria’s Secret-owner L Brands dropped 11.7 percent, the most on the S&P, after cutting its full-year profit expectations.

Synopsys gained 6.4 percent, the most on the S&P, after the electronic products and software maker beat quarterly estimates for revenue and profit.

Declining issues outnumbered advancers for a 2.01-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and a 1.67-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded 19 new 52-week highs and one new low, while the Nasdaq recorded 111 new highs and 13 new lows. (Reporting by Shreyashi Sanyal in Bengaluru Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty)

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