Shares of Boeing (BA.N), which has acted as a proxy for trade war tensions with China as it is the single largest USA exporter to the country, fell 2.1 percent premarket.
Twenty-First Century Fox Inc climbed 7.8 percent after Walt Disney Co, up 0.7 percent, sweetened its offer for some of the company's assets to United States dollars 71.3 billion, looking to topple Comcast Corp's bid, up 2.2 percent.
Large technology names were also strong, with Facebook winning 2.3 per cent, Microsoft one per cent and Amazon 0.9 per cent. S&P 500 e-minis (ESc1) were down 30.75 points, or 1.11 percent and Nasdaq 100 e-minis (NQc1) were down 94.75 points, or 1.3 percent.
The Philadelphia Semiconductor index fell 1.2 per cent. Shares in those companies have been relatively unaffected by trade worries.
Shares in Boeing Co, which has acted as a proxy for trade fears, rose 0.8 percent after six straight declines and kept the Dow near the unchanged mark.
Trump said his move followed China's decision to raise tariffs on US$50 billion in U.S. goods, which came after the White House announced similar tariffs on Chinese goods on Friday. "Investors can focus a little more on the fundamentals", said Sameer Samana, global equity and technical strategist at Wells Fargo Investment Institute in St. Louis. President Donald Trump threatened to impose a 10 per cent tariff on another US$200 billion (S$271 billion) of Chinese goods, and Beijing warned it would retaliate.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 15.7 points, or 0.06 percent, to 24,684.51, the S&P 500 gained 8.69 points, or 0.31 percent, to 2,771.28 and the Nasdaq Composite added 74.08 points, or 0.96 percent, to 7,799.67.
The declines weighed on the S&P industrials index, which fell 2.0 per cent, its biggest one-day percentage drop in almost two months.
Chipmakers, which depend on China for a large portion of their revenue, also slipped with Intel (INTC.O), Broadcom (AVGO.O), Qualcomm (QCOM.O) and AMD (AMD.O), all down more than 1.5 percent. Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc, which will replace GE, jumped 4.9 percent.
Software giant Oracle was another big loser, diving 7.4 per cent after projecting earnings of 68 cents per share for the next quarter, four cents below analyst expectations.
Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by a 1.49-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.25-to-1 ratio favored decliners.