Trump's Russia tweetstorm is just his latest market-disrupting action as the Dow whipsaws

  • President Donald Trump roiled markets once again Wednesday with tweets that escalated tensions with Russia.
  • Traders shrugged off monthly US consumer price data that was in line with economist estimates.
  • The early losses marked a reversal of two days of gains driven largely by reduced fears around a global trade war.
  • Declines extended in afternoon trading after Federal Reserve minutes showed officials see US trade spats with China as an economic risk.
  • Follow the Dow Jones industrial average and Nasdaq 100 indexes.

US stocks tumbled Wednesday as President Donald Trump escalated tensions with Russia through a series of tweets, rattling investor nerves at a time when fears of a global trade war were starting to ebb.

Equity futures extended losses just before 7 a.m. ET as Trump tweeted for Russia to “Get ready” because missiles would “be coming, nice and new and ‘smart!'” Trump has been weighing whether to strike Syria over a suspected chemical weapons attack of a rebel-held town Saturday that left dozens of people dead and that the US and local aid groups have blamed on the Russian-backed Syrian government.

The stock decline worsened on a second Russia-focused tweet from Trump roughly 45 minutes later, and premarket losses reached as much as 1.2%.

In early regular trading, the Dow Jones industrial average sank as much as 1.1%, or 257 points, while the S&P 500 lost 0.6%. The more tech-heavy Nasdaq 100 index slid 0.4%.

As Trump’s latest tweets dominated headlines, US investors shrugged off a Labour Department report showing US consumer prices in March were in line with economist estimates. Traders have been keenly focused on inflation readings in recent months as they search for any signals that the Federal Reserve will alter its pace of monetary tightening.

Then, in the afternoon, stocks resumed earlier declines after the minutes from the Federal Reserve‘s March meeting showed considerable concern over the mounting specter of a trade war.

Yet while the degree of Wednesday’s stock market decline may seem jarring, it should be noted that the Dow surged almost 500 points over the two days prior, meaning the decline hasn’t even erased half of that. Overall, the market’s recent propensity for large moves shows the low-volatility doldrums of 2017 are over and suggests multihundred-point Dow fluctuations are the new normal.

Of course, Trump hasn’t helped matters much, and the surge in volatility is a clear byproduct of his recent actions. Before Wednesday’s escalation with Russia, whose ambassador to Lebanon had earlier suggested Russia would retaliate to any US strike in Syria, the president had been locked in a trade stare down with China for weeks, stoking investor fears of a trade war.

The chart below shows just how choppy trading has gotten in US equities in recent weeks amid Trump’s geopolitical maneuverings.

Screen Shot 2018 04 11 at 10.14.07 AMBusiness Insider / Joe Ciolli, Marketwatch

It’s also possible that the selling is being driven by a shift in investment tactics that has been highlighted by Bank of America. After years of riding the “buy the dip” strategy to success, investors seem to have flipped the switch and are now “selling the rip” – or using periods of strength as an excuse to offload holdings.

Check out Business Insider’s in-depth coverage of the market’s recent turbulence:

Elsewhere in global equity markets, the Shanghai Composite rose 0.6%, while the Stoxx Europe 600 slipped 0.6%.

In the bond market, the 10-year US Treasury yield fell less than 1 basis point, to 2.79%, near the key 3% level that traders are closely watching. Bank of America Merrill Lynch has said a trade war could move yields higher in the medium to long term.

Here’s a rundown of other asset classes:

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