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Dow Takes Triple-Digit Tumble as Trade Tensions Escalate

Dow Takes Triple-Digit Tumble as Trade Tensions Escalate

Stocks fell sharply Thursday as investors girded themselves for a protracted trade war between the U.S. and China. Reports that foreign technology companies are suspending business with China's Huawei helped spark the latest selloff. Washington intends to impose restrictions on U.S. exports to the Chinese telecom giant in August, which is prompting some of Huawei's foreign partners to rethink their relationships with the company, reports say. Growing pessimism over a quick fix to the dispute between the world's two largest economies left 24 of the Dow's 30 components in the red on Thursday, led by United Technologies (UTX, -3.6%). The industrial average lost 1.1%, or 286 points, to close at 25,490.

Although Thursday's selling was widespread, there were pockets of strength. Long-term investors would do well to ignore daily market movements, but it's understandable if the relentless stream of trade-war news is keeping some of them awake at night. For those who feel the need to take a more defensive approach with their portfolios, there are options. Utilities, a classic safety play thanks to their stability and generous dividends, were a market bright spot on Thursday. Real estate investment trusts, which are known for defense and high dividend yields, also held up relatively well. And let's not forget about the traditional safe harbor of consumer staples stocks. The sector weathered Thursday's drawdown better than most. Indeed, Coca-Cola (KO, +0.4%) was one of the precious few Dow stocks to finish the session with gains. Investors looking to add some ballast might want to give these 18 consumer staples stocks a closer look.

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