US open: Stocks head south with trade tensions still in focus
US stocks headed south as trading began on Friday as tensions between Washington and Beijing remained at the front of investors' minds.
At 1530 BST, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 0.14% at 25,827.24, while the S&P 500 had lost 0.23% to 2,869.75 and the Nasdaq Composite was trading 0.32% lower to 7,872.69.
The Dow started the day trading down by 35 points as the major US indices, which had closed higher during the previous session on the back of positive quarterly numbers from the likes of Walmart and Cisco Systems, continued to be rattled by the escalating trade war between the US and China.
Chinese Commerce Ministry spokesman Gao Feng told state-run news agency Xinhua on Thursday that the Trump administration was exhibiting "bullying behaviour" with its latest round of tariffs on $200bn-worth of goods.
Feng said it was "regrettable that the US side unilaterally escalated trade disputes, which resulted in severe negotiating setbacks."
However, trade fears were partially curbed on Friday after the White House revealed it would delay applying tariffs on foreign-made cars by six months.
Oanda analyst Craig Erlam said the "bizarre week" for markets was likely to end on a negative note, a sign that investors still weren't feeling particularly comfortable despite a three-day winning streak.
"The week got off to a woeful start after China announced counter-tariffs against the US as trade talks broke down," said Erlam.
Trump had succeeded in calming investor fears by claiming the fallout was nothing more than a "little squabble" between the world's two largest economies, with markets somewhat recovering since Monday's rout, but Erlam was left wondering whether Wall Street's descent into the red at the bell was a sign that investors weren't "entirely convinced."
Across the pond, eyes were also fixed on Westminster, with the Tories and the Labour Party being unable to strike a deal on Brexit after six weeks of negotiations. The pound fell 0.4% to $1.2751 after the news broke.
In terms of data, the University of Michigan's consumer sentiment index climbed to a reading of 102.4 in May, a 15-year high.
The reading was up from April's figure of 97.2 and ahead of the 97.1 expected on the Street as a tight jobs market helped fuel confidence throughout the month.
However, the University of Michigan did point out that the gains were recorded before the collapse of trade negotiations with China.
Elsewhere, a number of Fed speeches were in focus, with Federal Reserve vice chair Richard Clarida speaking on the central bank's review of its monetary policy strategy, followed by New York Fed president John Williams at and Dallas Fed president Robert Kaplan.
On the corporate front, shares of Deere opened 5.27% lower despite its second-quarter results revealing an uptick in sales, while Nvidia was trading 1.05% firmer at the bell following the release of the chipmaker's second-quarter earnings overnight.