The US stocks pared earlier gains to trade lower on Friday as Wall Street continued to assess President Donald Trump's announcement to impose tariffs on imported Chinese products.
Despite strong warnings from business groups and trade experts, Trump on Thursday signed a memorandum that could impose tariffs on up to $60 billion of imports from China, in a unilateral move that triggered the market selloff, Xinhua reported.
According to the presidential memorandum, Trump has directed the US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to publish a list of proposed Chinese goods that could be subject to tariffs in 15 days, while the US Treasury Department will have 60 days to propose restrictions on Chinese investment in the US.
The move prompted the biggest percentage plunges in Wall Street's three major stock indexes in six weeks, with the Dow slumping over 700 points, as investors were agitated by the scale of the US tariffs and possible impact on global trade.
The Chinese Embassy in the US, in response, said "it is a typical unilateral trade protectionist action. China is strongly disappointed and firmly opposes such an action."
On the economic front, the US new orders for manufactured durable goods in February increased $7.4 billion, or 3.1 percent, to $247.7 billion, on Friday.
Around midday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 2.31 points, or 0.01 percent, to 23,955.58. The S&P 500 decreased 6.93 points, or 0.26 percent, to 2,636.76. The Nasdaq Composite Index was down 38.85 points, or 0.54 percent, to 7,127.82.