The Dow Jones Industrial Average, which is made up of many companies seen as especially vulnerable to a trade war, dropped 0.8 percent to 24,461.70.
The broad-based S&P 500 fell 0.6 percent to 2,749.76, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index shed 0.9 percent to 7,712.95.
Automakers fell hard after luxury carmaker Daimler cut its profit forecasts for 2018, blaming new tariffs on cars exported from the United States to China.
The German company has major US plants that export to China. China plans higher levies on the vehicles in retaliation for US tariffs on Chinese goods.
General Motors lost 2.0 percent, Ford 1.4 percent and Tesla Motors 4.1 percent.
The US economy has been seen as stronger than that of its trading partners but the Daimler warning “does raise the issue of a negative effect of the tariff situation on the US economy,” said Karl Haeling of LBBW.
Analysts were also perturbed by a big drop in a manufacturing survey by the Philadelphia Federal Reserve that badly undershot expectations.
Online retailers fell after the US Supreme Court decided US states have broad rights to tax online sales of goods and services. Amazon fell 1.1 percent and eBay dropped 3.2 percent.
Dow member Intel dropped 2.4 percent after Brian Krzanich resigned as chief executive over a consensual relationship with an employee that violated a company non-fraternization policy. Chief Financial Officer Bob Swan will serve as interim chief executive while the company searches for a replacement.
Kroger jumped 9.8 percent after reporting better-than-expected earnings on a 1.9 percent rise in comparable store sales in the first quarter. DM