Dow Drops 722 Points on Fears of U.S.-China Trade War, Facebook Regulation

The Dow Jones Industrial Average plummeted 722 points Thursday following President Trump’s announcement that he will place up to $50 billion in tariffs on Chinese imports.

The selloff reflects investor fears of a trade war erupting between the U.S., China and other countries under a protectionist Trump regime.

Facebook also drug the market downward as investors see the social network falling under lawmakers’ regulatory spotlight after a whistleblower revealed Saturday to The Guardian and The Times that Cambridge Analytica had purloined the data of 50 million Facebook users in a wide-ranging effort to manipulate those Americans psychologically to vote for Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign.

Cambridge Analytica is bankrolled by the family of right-wing hedge fund billionaire Robert Mercer, who funded much of Trump’s campaign and also bankrolled right-wing online media outlet Breitbart News, which supported the white nationalist views of a portion of Trump’s base.

Mercer stepped down from big-data crunching hedge fund Renaissance Technologies LLC in November and sold his stake in Breitbart to his daughters after Buzzfeed reported on leaked Breitbart emails that tied a former Breitbart senior editor, Milo Yiannopoulos, to white nationalists. Mercer also distanced himself in January from Stephen K. Bannon, Trump’s former chief strategist in the White House, campaign manager and former Breitbart chairman, after Bannon lambasted the Trump White House in Michael Wolff’s explosive book “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House.”

The Washington Post quoted the whistleblower, a former Cambridge Analytica employee on Tuesday saying that Bannon had overseen Cambridge Analytica’s collection of Facebook data, an assertion on which Bannon has yet to comment.

The Nasdaq 100 index traded down 2.5 percent as did the S&P 500, while the DJIA tumbled nearly 3 percent.

Investors are betting that regulatory pendulums will swing on America’s tech darlings, as Google parent company Alphabet Inc. traded down 3.7 percent; Amazon fell 2.3 percent; Apple slid 1.4 percent; and Facebook dropped 2.7 percent.

Shane Kite

This Brooklynite covers music, art, film, finance, technology, politics, small business, economics, clean energy, national security and local and foreign affairs.

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