Dow drops 380 points, ending 10 consecutive months of gains

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Shares of auto makers and other big consumers of steel and aluminum added to their session losses after Trump said the USA would impose tariffs of 25 percent on steel imports and 10 percent on imported aluminum next week, while shares of US steel and aluminum companies jumped.

About 8.1 billion shares changed hands on US exchanges.

The S&P 500 fell 30 points, or 1.1 percent, to 2,713. Eastern time. The index is coming off its worst month in two years, when concerns about higher inflation and rates helped trigger a 10 per cent drop.

To the figures from around the globe: Wall Street closed up lower yesterday: the Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 1.2 per cent to close at 25,410, the S&P 500 lost 1.3 per cent to close at 2,744 and the NASDAQ lost 1 per cent to close at 7,330. Thursday's fall marked its third straight day of declines of at least 1 percent, the first such streak for the index since January 2016.

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Best Buy jumped around 5 percent after it reported strong same-store sales for the fourth quarter, recovering from falls overnight due to the US consumer electronics retailer's announcement of 250 small mobile phone store closures. Those companies make the vast majority of their sales in the U.S, but they made far larger gains earlier in the afternoon.

Consumer spending, which accounts for more than two-thirds of US economic activity, gained 0.2 percent in January, while core PCE price index, the Federal Reserve's favored gauge on inflation, rose 0.2 percent compared with economists' expectation of a 0.3 percent rise.

Energy and health care companies fell more than the rest of the market. Apple gave up $4.65, or 2.6 per cent, to $173.47 and Pfizer shed $1, or 2.7 per cent, to $35.32.

FILE PHOTO: Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, (NYSE) in New York, U.S., February 26, 2018.

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Trump has vowed to take steps to crack down on imports of steel and aluminum and has been considering imposing hefty tariffs or quotas on imports of the metals from China and other countries under a national security law.

Steel makers were sharply higher following reports that the government would announce tariffs on imported steel.

Stocks were higher earlier in the day after Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell testified before Congress and appeared to calm one of the market's main worries when he said that he does not see inflation in workers' wages "at a point of acceleration".

There could be more fireworks in the market on Thursday.

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