Stocks tick lower as US-China tensions rise

Stocks tick lower as US-China tensions rise
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Stocks ticked lower Friday after top Trump administration officials pledged to hold China accountable for its early handling of the novel coronavirus outbreak and attempts to expand control over Hong Kong.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average sunk 132 points, falling 0.5 percent shortly after trading opened Friday. The S&P 500 fell 0.4 percent, and the Nasdaq composite sunk 0.17 percent.

Tensions between the Trump administration and the Chinese government have steadily increased as COVID-19 spread through the U.S. and forced the country into its deepest economic downturn since the Great Depression. 

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President TrumpDonald John TrumpMulvaney: 'We've overreacted a little bit' to coronavirus Former CBS News president: Most major cable news outlets 'unrelentingly liberal' in 'fear and loathing' of Trump An old man like me should be made more vulnerable to death by COVID-19 MORE, his top aides and Republican lawmakers have ramped up calls to hold China accountable for failing to contain the outbreak, and the Senate this week passed a bill that would de-list the stocks of Chinese companies that refuse U.S. audits.

Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoChinese state media: Wuhan conducted 6.5 million coronavirus tests in 9 days The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Americans debate life under COVID-19 risks The 10 Senate seats most likely to flip MORE on Friday condemned China’s push for legislation allowing it to exercise more control over Hong Kong, insisting it would be a “death knell” for the territory’s autonomy from Beijing.

The Chinese government is expected next week to pass a “national security law” for Hong Kong that allows Chinese officials to police “treason, secession, sedition and subversion” against Beijing. The U.S. has warned that doing so would undermine the one country, two systems policy that has allowed Hong Kong to operate under its own laws since Britain transferred control of territory to China in 1997.