NEW YORK – Stocks were falling sharply and bond prices were climbing midday Thursday as investors fear that trade tensions will spike between the U.S. and China.

The Trump administration is expected to announce trade sanctions on China later Thursday, while the government in Beijing said it will defend itself.

Industrial and technology companies took some of the worst losses. Caterpillar dropped 3.6 percent and Micron fell 3 percent.

Stock indexes in Europe also fell sharply. Germany’s main index lost 2.3 percent.

Investors bought government bonds, sending yields lower. That helped send bank stocks down.

Just before noon:

The S&P 500 index skidded 42 points, or 1.6 percent, to 2,668.

The Dow Jones industrial average plunged 448 points, or 1.8 percent, to 24,233. The Nasdaq composite fell 129 points, or 1.8 percent, to 7,215.