Tech firms lead stock slump

U.S. tech shares slumped as concern about trade tensions blunted optimism that slower-than forecast inflation would allow the Federal Reserve to cut rates. Oil plunged to a four-month low.

Chipmakers were among the worst performers as the S&P 500 index slipped, with defensive sectors like utilities faring the best. The tech-heavy Nasdaq 100 declined the most in a week as Facebook fell. Crude dropped to the lowest since January on concern the trade dispute between the U.S. and China could trip up the global economy. The dollar strengthened and Treasuries climbed.

Just as investor concern over protectionism and global growth seemed to be easing, a fresh wave of uncertainty followed President Donald Trump’s announcement that he is personally delaying a trade deal with China and won’t complete the accord unless Beijing returns to terms negotiated earlier this year. The monthly inflation numbers released Wednesday supported the idea the Fed can cut borrowing costs after the president scowled at “way too high” interest rates.

Hong Kong protest rattles business

As tens of thousands of protesters returned to Hong Kong’s streets on Wednesday to speak out against a proposed law that would allow extraditions to mainland China, one prominent voice has been largely silent: big business.

But quietly, a wave of concern has spread through the community of foreign consultants, investors and executives who depend on Hong Kong as a safe base from which to do business in China. Behind the scenes, they are grappling with difficult questions about whether the legislation would endanger foreign executives or undermine the city’s legal system, a venue preferred over the mainland’s Communist Party-controlled courts for resolving disputes.

Renault tries to fortify alliance

A week after the collapse of a potential merger with Fiat Chrysler, French automaker Renault is pressing to strengthen ties with Nissan, the company’s chairman said Wednesday.

Speaking to more than 900 Renault shareholders in Paris, Jean-Dominique Senard, the chairman, acknowledged that there was “a tense climate” between his company and Nissan. “But,” he added, “the good news is that nothing is irreparable.” Senard and Hiroto Saikawa, Nissan’s chief executive, face scrutiny for failing to shore up the world’s largest auto alliance six months after Carlos Ghosn was charged with financial misconduct. His arrest set off a destabilizing chain of events at the companies.

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