“What does it mean for trade?”
That question continued to guide Wall Street Wednesday, leading stocks to a mixed finish after President Donald Trump’s top economic adviser resigned after opposing the administration’s planned tariffs on imports of steel and aluminum.
Stocks fell in the morning as investors reacted to the departure of Gary Cohn, a former Goldman Sachs executive who was seen as a proponent of free trade. The Dow Jones industrial average fell as much as 349 points.
“He was seen as a key proponent of free trade to balance some of the other more protectionist-type advisers in the administration,” said Keith Parker, U.S. Equity Strategist for UBS. Cohn was also considered one of the architects of last year’s corporate tax cut.
The market bounced back late in the afternoon after the White House said some countries, including Canada and Mexico, might be granted exemptions to the tariffs. That suggested a lighter touch that won’t affect the global economy and corporate profits as much as a broader tariff would, and wouldn’t result in as much retaliation from other countries.
The Standard & Poor’s 500 index fell as much as 1 percent during the day but finished with a loss of just 1.32 points, less than 0.1 percent, at 2,726.80. The Dow Jones industrial average declined 82.76 points, or 0.3 percent, to 24,801.36.
The Nasdaq composite gained 24.64 points, or 0.3 percent, to 7,396.65.