Stocks ended mixed Friday after President Donald Trump took a series of steps against China, including cutting ties with the World Health Organization, which he claimed is controlled by Beijing.
Despite increasing tensions between the world's two largest economies, the president did not say anything about terminating the phase-one trade agreement the U.S. reached with China.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average had briefly crossed into positive territory immediately after Trump's address before finishing down 17 points, or 0.07%, at 25,383. The S&P 500 rose 0.48% and the Nasdaq advanced 1.29%.
Trump criticized China's handling of the coronavirus outbreak, which originated in Wuhan, saying Beijing “covered up the Wuhan virus and allowed the disease to spread across the world, instigating a pandemic."
China ignored its reporting obligations to the World Health Organization, Trump said.
"China has total control over the World Health Organization despite paying only $40 million per year compared to what United States has been paying, which is approximately $450 million a year," he said. "The world need answers from China on the virus," Trump said. "We must have transparency."
Trump said that because the WHO did not make "the requested and greatly needed reforms, we will today terminate our relationship" with the organization and redirect the U.S. funds to "deserving global health needs."
In addition to announcing the withdrawal from the WHO, Trump, who took no questions during the news conference, said the U.S. would sanction the Chinese officials responsible for eroding the autonomy of Hong Kong.
Trump said the U.S. will end its special treatment for Hong Kong that allows for easier travel and trade between the U.S. and Hong Kong.
“Hong Kong no longer is sufficiently autonomous to warrant special treatment,” Trump said. “I’m eliminating the policy that gives Hong Kong special treatment, including the extradition treaty and export controls.”
Markets were rattled by Trump's announced news conference, as well as a government report saying consumer spending in the U.S. dropped sharply.
U.S. stocks declined Thursday, turning lower in the last hour of trading, after Trump said he would hold a press conference about China.
Meanwhile, U.S. consumers pulled back on their spending in April after the coronavirus pandemic had shoppers purchasing mostly just essential items.
Consumer spending dropped 13.6% in April, the steepest drop in Commerce Department records back to 1959, according to Bloomberg.
Personal income, on the other hand, jumped 10.5% in April as coronavirus-related jobless benefits from the U.S. government were distributed.
Twitter (TWTR) - Get Report fell for a third session after the microblogging website censured another message from its most high-profile user, President Trump, in what is now an escalating battle between social media companies and the White House.
Twitter executives said a tweet from the president, which threatened the use of National Guard troops to quell protests in Minneapolis following the death of a black man at the hands of city police, violated the company's guidelines on "glorifying violence."