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AFTER THE BELL: Markets plunge as Trump tweets rekindle fears of U.S./China trade war, Canadian bank stocks tumble

Markets plunged across North America today as optimism about a trade deal between U.S. and China faded.

Stalled talks at the G20 summit between the U.S. and China coupled with tweets by President Donald Trump dampened the short-lived enthusiasm over the current 90-day tariff truce between the economic superpowers.

Trump tweeted that he is a “Tariff Man”, adding that, “when people or countries come in to raid the great wealth of our Nation, I want them to pay for the privilege of doing so. “

Later in the same tweet, Trump wrote “we are right now taking in $billions in Tariffs.”

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Trump’s tweets rocked the Dow, which tumbled 799 points, with trade-sensitive stocks free-falling.

U.S. bellwethers falling by 2.9 percent or more included Boeing, General Electric, and Caterpillar, Apple, Home Depot, and Walmart.

The Dow’s financial sector also wobbled with steep drops in Visa, Goldman Sachs, and American Express.

The catalyst behind the drop in financials is the gap between the 10-year and two-year Treasury yields dropping to the smallest since just before the Great Recession, according to CNN.

The NASDAQ also sunk deep into the red, falling 283 points as America’s tech stocks took a battering.

On Bay Street, renewed trade concerns and falling bank and energy stocks contributed to the TSX losing 211 points.

There were broad-based losses across the index with eight of 11 major sectors ending lower.

Financials lost 1.6 percent despite the Bank of Montreal reporting net fourth quarter net income of $1,695 million, up 38 percent compared to a year ago.

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The bank also reported that its dividend increased by four cents from the prior quarter to $1.00, up eight percent from the previous year.

Even with these positive results, BMO’s stock lost 3.8 percent as investors look ahead to 2019 and the challenges that Canadian banks may face next year.

The TSX’s influential energy sector dropped 2.1 percent as the price of oil fell, while industrials were off by 2.7 percent.

Oil lost 35 cents, dropping to $52.60 US a barrel as an expected cut in supply by the world’s major producers was overshadowed by U.S./China trade fears and Russia’s reluctance to cut output.

The loonie gave up all of yesterday’s gains, weakening by 35/100ths of a cent to $0.7541 US while jittery investors fled to the safety of gold, with the yellow metal gaining $3.50 to $1,240 an ounce.

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