NEW YORK (AFP) – Wall Street stocks sank in early trading on Tuesday (Dec 3) after President Donald Trump warned a trade deal with China could be delayed and escalated another trade dispute with France.

Trump, in London for a Nato summit, said a resolution to the China dispute could wait until after next November’s US election, comments that raised questions about a preliminary agreement in October to hold off on new tariff actions between the countries, including new levies scheduled to take effect this month.

Those remarks came after the US threatened to impose tariffs of up to 100 per cent on US$2.4 billion (S$3.2 billion) in French goods following a French tax on technology companies, which US officials say unfairly targets the United States.

About 20 minutes into trading, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 1.5 per cent at 27,359.40.

The broad-based S&P 500 dropped 1.4 per cent to 3,071.57, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index fell 1.7 per cent to 8,438.57.

Analysts noted that the pullback comes after US stocks hit records early last week – a position that often leads to profit taking.

Still, the US tone on trade had observers worried.

Carl Weinberg of High Frequency Economics said Trump’s comments boosted the possibility the United States will move ahead with new tariffs on imported consumer goods from China later this month.

“If the president does not pivot on his comments quickly, it will be the coup de grace for hopes of a settlement on the US-China trade war any time soon,” Weinberg wrote in a client note.