Shares of General Motors and Ford Motor moved only marginally higher before the bell on Thursday following the Trump administration launch of a national security investigation into car imports which could result in new tariffs on foreign rivals while also stirring trade tensions.
Washington stated on Wednesday it will open a so-called Section 232 investigation into the matter if imports of vehicles and auto parts harm national security. A similar investigation prefaced the enforcement of tariffs on steel and aluminium imports previously this year.
The investigation prefaces mid-term elections in U.S. industrial heartlands later this year and is observed as part of President Trump’s “America First” push to gain back manufacturing jobs lost to foreign rivals.
Pointing to a mixed bag of impacts on U.S. producers after the metals tariffs, experts were cautious about predicting major gains for U.S. firms and employees from the process.
Ford shares gained around half a percent where as those in GM were up below 0.1 percent in premarket trade in New York, compared to falls of 1.8 to 2.8 percent for German automakers BMW, Daimler and Volkswagen.
Shares of U.S. auto parts providers Aptiv Plc and Lear Corp, which could also be impacted by the investigation, were yet to begin trading on Thursday while those in German rival Continental AG dropped 1.6 percent.