Stocks fall…US trade gap highest since 2008…ADP: US businesses hire 235,000 in February

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks are broadly lower in early trading on Wall Street following the departure of the top economic adviser in the White House. Investors fear that the announced resignation of Gary Cohn, who opposed President Donald Trump on tariffs on steel and aluminum, will mean more protectionist policies from the White House. Among the stocks falling are Boeing and Caterpillar, which are both big users of metals and depend both on international trade.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross says the White House is seeking to take a “surgical approach” to new tariffs, saying it is possible Canada and Mexico could be exempted. House Speaker Paul Ryan used the same language yesterday in calling for President Donald Trump to use a more targeted “surgical approach” to avert a potentially dangerous trade war. Trump plans to impose a 25 percent tariff on steel imports and a 10 percent tariff on aluminum imports.

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. trade deficit has risen to the highest level since October 2008. The Commerce Department says the trade deficit rose to $56.6 billion in January, up from $53.9 billion in December and the highest since October 2008’s $60.2 billion trade gap. The trade deficit — the gap between what America sells and what it buys abroad — has risen for five straight months.

WASHINGTON (AP) — A private survey finds that U.S. companies added a healthy 235,000 jobs last month, led by solid gains in construction, hotels and restaurants, and education and health care, according to a private survey. Payroll provider ADP says February’s hiring comes after businesses added 244,000 people in January and 249,000 in December. The government releases its February jobs report Friday.

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. productivity showed no gain in the fourth quarter, the poorest performance since an outright decline in the first quarter of 2016. The Labor Department says the flat reading was a slight improvement over an initial estimate a month ago that productivity had actually fallen at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 0.1 percent last quarter. Labor costs rose at an annual rate of 2.5 percent in the fourth quarter, a modest gain that followed a 1 percent increase in the third quarter.

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