Stocks closed in negative territory Monday after the White House said President Trump would meet Rod Rosenstein, deputy attorney general, on Thursday, dialing back earlier reports that an immediate firing was possible.
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Earlier, sources told Fox News that Rosenstein was heading to the White House expecting to be fired following a damaging press report.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 181.45 points, or 0.68 percent, to 26,562.05. The S&P 500 dropped 10.3 points, about 0.3 percent, to 2,919.37. The Nasdaq Composite ticked 6.29 points higher, or 0.08 percent, to 7,993.25.
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Stocks accelerated their losses when reports said an immediate firing was possible, but the market pared its losses when those reports proved premature.
Traders also digested the latest escalation in the trade war between the world's two largest economies. The Trump administration on Monday placed tariffs of 10 percent on $200 billion of Chinese products, with the tariffs set to go up to 25 percent by the end of 2018. Beijing's new levies, which also went into effect Monday, will be 5-10 percent.
In corporate news, a megamerger in the mining space was announced on Monday as Randgold Resources agreed to an all-share takeover by Barrick Gold. The combination creates an $18.3 billion gold-mining giant.
Over the weekend, the battle for ownership of British broadcaster Sky ended on Saturday with Comcast outbidding 21st Century Fox with a $38.8 billion bid through a U.K. auction.
Comcast’s offer of about £17.28 per share beat Fox’s highest bid of £15.67 in a three-round bidding battle that began on Friday. The results were announced by The Takeover Panel.
Following the auction 21st Century Fox, which owns 39 percent of Sky, Fox said it is "considering options” regarding its share.
21st Century Fox is the parent company of FOX Business and FOX News.
Oil prices rose globally after OPEC, over the weekend, declined a wide-level production boost despite calls by President Trump last week to lower crude prices.
FOX Business' Leia Klingel contributed to this article.