Can the stock market hold out long enough for Trump to win a trade war?
May 16, 2019 @ 13:44 UTC
The period of January through April marked the best four-month start a year for stocks in more than 30 years, but markets have hit a rough patch in May on fears that a U.S.-China trade conflagration could morph into a full-blown war.
Investors and strategists tell MarketWatch that heightened uncertainty over U.S.-China trade relations will continue to be a significant headwind for equity benchmarks, but that the extent of the damage could be limited by both the Trump administration and the Federal Reserve’s sensitivity to a market sell-off.
“Before last week we were pro-risk: overweight stocks, emerging markets and small caps within our stock portfolios,” Ed Campbell, portfolio manager at QMA told MarketWatch. “Now, we’ve been in the process of scaling back on those bets and going to neutral or cutting those positions in half.”
The strategy shift for wealth managers and investors follows a May 5 tweet from President Trump, who first raised the prospect allowing annual tariffs on more than $200 billion of China goods to be lifted to 25% from 10%, charging that Chinese officials reneged on commitments they had made during negotiations.
The tweet sparked a cavalcade of selling of assets perceived as risky, like stocks and crude-oil futures, sending markets mostly reeling over the following six-session span. Indeed, the S&P 500 SPX, +0.58% lost more than 4.5% of its value since that period. And although a rebound has taken shape on Wall Street, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, +0.45% S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite indexes COMP, +1.13% producing gains of at least 0.8% in Tuesday dealings, the tariff uneasiness lingers.