By Robert Schroeder, MarketWatch
President Donald Trump on Monday called for action in the wake of the deadly weekend shootings in Ohio and Texas and said China was manipulating its currency as markets plummeted.
YUAN AND THE FED
After China’s yuan /zigman2/quotes/210561991/realtime/sampled USDCNY 0.0000% fell below 7 to the dollar overnight, Trump tweeted, “China dropped the price of their currency to an almost historic low. It’s called ‘currency manipulation.’ Are you listening Federal Reserve? This is a major violation which will greatly weaken China over time!”
The U.S. Treasury Department has as recently as May declined to label China a currency manipulator. Trump has repeatedly called on the Federal Reserve to ease monetary policy, even after last week’s first interest-rate cut in more than 10 years.
U.S. stocks dropped sharply on Monday amid the U.S.-China tensions, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average /zigman2/quotes/210598065/realtime DJIA +0.14% falling more than 800 points in afternoon trade. The S&P 500 /zigman2/quotes/210599714/realtime SPX -0.07% was off about 85 points while the Nasdaq /zigman2/quotes/210598365/realtime COMP -0.22% fell around 284 points.
In remarks at the White House Trump said that “mental illness and hatred pulls the trigger, not the gun.” He said he was “open and ready to listen and discuss all ideas that will actually work and make a very big difference.” Trump, a frequent tweeter, also blamed the “perils of social media, the internet and video games” for what he called divisions in society.
In a morning tweet Trump urged “strong background checks,” and perhaps pairing such legislation with immigration reform. He did not mention background checks in his spoken comments. Meanwhile Sens. Joe Manchin, a West Virginia Democrat, and Pat Toomey, a Pennsylvania Republican, said in a statement they spoke with Trump about legislation on background checks .
Shares of Smith & Wesson parent American Outdoor Brands Corp. /zigman2/quotes/202273249/composite AOBC -2.75% rose 1.3% in afternoon trading, while Sturm Ruger & Co. /zigman2/quotes/200036418/composite RGR -0.72% shares lost 2% after climbing 1.3%. Ammunition maker Vista Outdoor Inc.’s /zigman2/quotes/205852373/composite VSTO +2.30% stock gained about 2%.
The shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, left at least 31 dead and about 50 injured.
In his remarks Trump referred to Toledo, Ohio. Former Vice President Joe Biden, who leads the pack of Democrats seeking to challenge Trump in 2020, also flubbed the locations of the shootings .
The president said the country must “in one voice” “condemn racism, bigotry and white supremacy.” Democratic presidential candidates sought to lay blame on Trump following the mass shootings, saying his language about minorities promotes racial division and ultimately violence. The El Paso shooting is being investigated as a potential hate crime.