AFP – US tech giants took a beating on Monday on reports of stepped-up antitrust scrutiny from Washington, while European stocks bounced after a lackluster May.
Worries about US trade wars lingered in the background, contributing to another decline in oil prices.
The Wall Street Journal, citing unnamed sources, reported that the Justice Department and Federal Trade Commission had agreed to coordinate antitrust enforcement over the biggest tech companies, with Justice taking the lead on Google and the FTC handling Facebook and some aspects of Amazon.
The report follows myriad controversies involving the companies and comes as some presidential candidates call for the giants to broken up.
The tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index finished 1.6 percent lower following an ugly session in which Facebook tumbled 7.5 percent, Google parent Alphabet slid 6.1 percent and other tech giants such as Amazon and Microsoft also dropped.
The latest probes "could be the start of a new anti-monopoly push in the industry," said Gorilla Trades strategist Ken Berman.
The tech rout stymied US stocks after a muted open, although the Dow finished a hair higher.
Yet stock markets in London, Paris and Frankfurt all advanced, part of a bargain-hunting push after a bruising May, analysts said.
Stocks fell broadly last month amid worsening trade tensions between Washington and Beijing that were followed late last week by a surprise US announcement from President Donald Trump of new tariffs on Mexico over illegal immigration.
Referring to "the never-ending game of tariff tag," OANDA senior market analyst Edward Moya said there were fears "we could see a global recession by the middle of next year if the US imposes additional tariffs on China and Mexico."
Adding to downcast sentiment were weak manufacturing reports on Monday from Britain and the United States.
The data show "a deepening in the global manufacturing slowdown," said FTN Financial’s Chris Low. "Obviously the thinking is that it’s mostly because of tariffs… but it also illustrates the companies have very little pricing power."
Those fears also weighed on the oil market, where major benchmark contracts have lost around $10 in two weeks.
"Escalating trade wars and weaker activity indicators have finally caught up with oil market sentiment," Goldman Sachs said in a note.
– Key figures around 2050 GMT –
New York – Dow: UP less than 0.1 percent at 24,819.78 (close)
New York – S&P 500: DOWN 0.3 percent at 2,744.45 (close)
New York – Nasdaq: DOWN 1.6 percent at 7,333.02 (close)
London – FTSE 100: UP 0.3 percent at 7,184.80 (close)
Frankfurt – DAX 30: UP 0.6 percent at 11,792.81 (close)
Paris – CAC 40: UP 0.7 percent at 5,241.46 (close)
EURO STOXX 50: UP 0.6 percent at 3,300.22 (close)
Tokyo – Nikkei 225: DOWN 0.9 percent at 20,410.88 (close)
Hong Kong – Hang Seng: FLAT at 26,893.86 (close)
Shanghai – Composite: DOWN 0.3 percent at 2,890.08 (close)
Pound/dollar: UP at $1.2665 from $1.2629 at 2100 GMT Friday
Euro/pound: UP at 88.77 pence from 88.41 pence
Euro/dollar: UP at $1.1242 at $1.1169
Dollar/yen: DOWN at 108.07 yen from 108.29 yen
Oil – Brent Crude: DOWN 71 cents at $61.28 per barrel
Oil – West Texas Intermediate: DOWN 25 cents at $53.25 per barrel