Stock markets around the world retreated on Monday amid concerns over the potential wider impact of a trade spat between China and the United States, while oil prices rallied to a four-year high after OPEC ignored U.S. calls to raise supply.
Wall Street equities tumbled after the Axios news site reported that U.S. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein had verbally resigned to White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, in anticipation of being fired by President Donald Trump. Other media sites had similar reports.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 142.46 points, or 0.53 percent, to 26,601.04, the S&P 500 lost 9.7 points, or 0.33 percent, to 2,919.97 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 8.01 points, or 0.1 percent, to 7,978.95.
MSCI's gauge of stocks across the globe shed 0.46 percent.
U.S. Treasury yields across maturities briefly fell by around two basis points after the report about Rosenstein, who oversees the federal investigation into Russia's role in the 2016 U.S. election and had reportedly suggested secretly recording Trump.
The benchmark index for euro zone blue chip stocks retreated 0.62 percent, while the pan-European STOXX 600, which also includes stocks in Britain and outside the European Union, was down 0.6 percent.
Europe had followed Asia lower, with MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan closing 1.1 percent lower, while Japan's Nikkei rose 0.82 percent.
China and the United States, the world's two biggest economies, imposed fresh tariffs on each other's goods on Monday, showing no signs of backing down from an increasingly bitter trade dispute that is expected to knock back global economic growth.
"This is here to stay," said Adrien Dumas, a manager at Mandarine Gestion in Paris, arguing that because trade is at the core of the Trump administration's agenda, investors should accept that the issue is unlikely to recede any time soon.
"It's a negative and it adds to other issues," he said, pointing to stress in emerging markets or political risk in Italy and Britain.
A worsening trade environment is also likely to exacerbate diverging economic performance and policy rates between different regions, Citi analysts said in a note on Monday.
"The U.S. economy is moving full steam ahead, bolstered by pro-cyclical policies, while others are lagging," they said.
Brexit, or Britain's exit from the European Union, weighed on sentiment. On Friday, British Prime Minister Theresa May said talks with the EU had hit an impasse.
British opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn said on Sunday he would support a second Brexit referendum if his Labour Party backs the move, heaping more pressure on May, amid speculation that she could opt to call a snap parliamentary election.
European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi said he expected a vigorous pickup in euro zone inflation, backing moves toward unwinding an ECB asset purchase program meant to stimulate the economy. That drove the euro to more than a three-month high against the dollar.
The dollar index, tracking it against a basket of other major currencies, fell 0.18 percent.