June 25, 2018 / 8:12 PM / 6 months ago

BUZZ-U.S. steel cos' shares sink, on track for biggest drop since March

** Shares of U.S. steel cos fell sharply on Mon as traders grew cautious amid an escalating U.S.-China trade dispute; S&P 1500 steel index down 4.6 pct, its biggest daily pct decline since Mar 22

** Shares were hammered on Mar 22 as the United States said it would exempt more countries from a tariff on metals imports that has been promoted as invigorating industry

** A U.S. government official said on Sun the U.S. Treasury Department was drafting curbs that would block firms with at least 25 pct Chinese ownership from buying U.S. tech firms. A Wall Street Journal report also said the U.S. planned to block additional tech exports to China

** Shares of U.S. Steel Corp dropped 6.5 pct while shares of Nucor Corp, the lone steel stock in the S&P 500, dropped 4.1 pct. The S&P 500 fell 1.4 pct

** “We are looking at negative issues for U.S. agriculture products, for steel and other basic materials, especially aluminum, and also how all of the tit-for-tat shakes out with different countries,” said J. Bryant Evans, investment advisor and portfolio manager at Cozad Asset Management in Champaign, Illinois

** “The main thing for steel is worldwide demand, and so if the broader protectionism starts eventually reducing worldwide demand, you could actually see lower steel prices,” he said

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