US STOCKS-Wall Street slides on Tillerson exit, tariff worries

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* GE slides 4.4 pct after bearish J.P. Morgan note

* Big techs down more than 1 pct

* CPI data in line with estimates

By April Joyner

NEW YORK, March 13 (Reuters) – Wall Street’s major indexesfell on Tuesday as the dismissal of U.S. Secretary of State RexTillerson and the possibility of additional U.S. import tariffsagainst China dragged down stocks across sectors.

President Donald Trump fired Tillerson after a series ofpublic rifts over issues including North Korea and Russia. Trump has appointed CIA Director Mike Pompeo, seen as loyal tothe president, to replace Tillerson. To lead the CIA, thepresident has tapped Gina Haspel, the agency’s deputy director. urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nL1N1QV0JE

“Any time there’s change, investors get nervous,” said JohnCarey, portfolio manager at Amundi Pioneer Asset Management inBoston. “They have to go back to the drawing board to figure outwhat the implications might be.”

Still, Carey said, at least the nominees to lead the StateDepartment and the CIA are familiar names.

“I don’t think either change will be troubling to the marketas people reflect on the qualifications of the people steppinginto the roles,” he said.

U.S. stocks added to losses after Politico reported that apackage of tariffs targeting $30 billion a year in Chineseimports could be rolled out as soon as next week. urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nL1N1QV1MF

“This may be upsetting the apple cart,” said Bryan Novak,senior managing director at Astor Investment Management inChicago. “When you look at tariffs, you don’t just look in avacuum. You look at what follows on top of (them). It’s worthwatching a bit more, to see the follow-through on our side andtheir side, but there could be some anxiety around it.”

The markets had opened higher after data showed U.S.consumer price growth slowed in February, an indication that ananticipated pickup in inflation probably will be only gradual. urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nL1N1QU184

The Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI fell 171.58 points,or 0.68 percent, to 25,007.03, the S&P 500 .SPX lost 17.71points, or 0.64 percent, to 2,765.31 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC dropped 77.31 points, or 1.02 percent, to 7,511.01.

Tech .SPLRCT and financial .SPSY stocks were the biggestlaggards among the S&P 500’s 11 major sectors.

Shares of Microsoft CorpMSFT.O , Facebook IncFB.O andAlphabet Inc GOOGL.O fell between 1.5 percent and 2.4 percent.

“Technology rallied hard yesterday and last week, and thereis profit-taking, but it’s just a short-term pressure,” said KenPolcari, director of the NYSE floor division at O’NeilSecurities in New York.

Financial stocks were weighed as U.S. Treasury yields fellin response to the CPI data and Tillerson’s exit. US/

Among individual stocks, General Electric CoGE.N fell 4.4percent after J.P. Morgan cut its price target on the stock to$11 from $14, saying the industrial conglomerate was not a”safety stock” in a volatile market.

Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by a1.27-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.55-to-1 ratio favored decliners.

The S&P 500 posted 43 new 52-week highs and no new lows; theNasdaq Composite recorded 180 new highs and 24 new lows.

Volume on U.S. exchanges was 6.89 billion shares, comparedto the 7.13 billion average for the full session over the last20 trading days. (Additional reporting by Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru; Editingby Arun Koyyur, James Dalgleish and Susan Thomas) ((April.Joyner@thomsonreuters.com; +1 646 223 7480;))