Financial markets remained cautious after China said over the weekend that it would raise tariffs on 128 USA products, deepening a dispute between the world's two biggest economies and stoking concerns about the potential impact of the trade standoff on global growth.
"Because recent lows in the market have held, people may feel a bit more comfortable buying the dip, even though nothing has changed or been resolved", he said. Futures pointed to losses of more than 2% for the Nasdaq and Dow.
The selling also comes ahead of the Trump administration's plan to unveil this week the list of Chinese imports targeted for United States tariffs.
The S&P 500's technology sector .SPLRCT , the biggest driver in the current bull market, swung between positive and negative territory and was last up 0.6 percent. It dropped 2.2 percent a day earlier.
With many global markets closed for Easter, trading volume was fairly light in the morning but picked up in the afternoon as investors began unloading their holdings, said JJ Kinahan, chief markets strategist for TD Ameritrade.
China's tariffs on USA soybean exports led to bets that higher domestic reserves would lower food costs for meat producers such as Tyson Foods (TSN.N), Hormel (HRL.N), Sanderson Farms (SAFM.O) and Pilgrim's Pride (PPC.O), helping those stocks.
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Volume on USA exchanges was 7.14 billion shares, compared to the 7.31 billion average for the last 20 trading days.
Technology stocks and retailers, which bore the brunt of the selling a day earlier, posted solid gains in early trading Tuesday. Both CBS and Viacom are controlled by media mogul Sumner Redstone's holding company.
Used-car seller CarMax Inc.(KMX) rose 4.6% after its results.
Traders are also looking ahead to the release of the Labor Department's closely watched monthly jobs report on Friday.
Markit's March report on services came in at 54, a drop from the previous reading of 55.9, while the Institute for Supply Management was at 58.8 (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/most-us-companies-still-growing-rapidly-in-march-ism-finds-2018-04-04), with economists polled by MarketWatch forecasting a March reading of 59.0%.
Amazon and Tesla, the top drags yesterday, rose, with the Dow and the S&P opening above their 200-day moving averages.
With pork products among the goods subject to the Chinese tariffs, shares in Tyson Foods, a major US meat company, dropped 6.3 percent Monday.