Robert Lighthizer

MANIC MARKET FLIPS ON TRADE HEADLINES

Stocks rallied after the Trump Administration delayed some of the new trade tariffs planned for next month. The Dow is currently up 363 pts, the SPX is up 1.3% and the Nasdaq is up almost 1.6%. Not surprisingly, the leading sectors today—consumer discretionary, industrials, tech—are viewed as having the most vulnerability to an escalating trade war. By contrast, the two sectors seen as the safest in an uncertain global trade environment—utilities and real estate—are in the red today. The VIX Index, a common gauge of fear among options traders, fell back to 17.9 from 21 yesterday. European stock markets rallied sharply on the trade tariff news as well. Asian markets, however, were down overnight on civil unrest in Hong Kong. The US dollar continues to strengthen as the Chinese yuan weakens. But better investor sentiment today is propping up commodities. WTI crude oil spiked 3% to $56.80/barrel for no good reason. Bonds are selling off after an enormous 2019 rally. The 10-year Treasury Note yield bounced back to 1.68% this morning. Since investors’ primary concerns at the moment are 1) trade war, and 2) falling interest rates, any day in which rate rise will generally evoke risk-on sentiment.


*The foregoing content reflects the author's personal opinions which may not coincide with the opinions of the firm, and are subject to change at any time without notice. Content provided herein is for informational purposes only and should not be used or construed as investment advice or a recommendation regarding the purchase or sale of any security. There is no guarantee that these statements, opinions, or forecasts provided herein will prove to be correct. Past performance is not a guarantee of future results. Indices are not available for direct investment. Any investor who attempts to mimic the performance of an index would incur fees and expenses which would reduce returns. All investing involves risk. Asset allocation and diversification does not ensure a profit or protect against a loss. Finally, please understand that–as with other social media–if you leave a comment, it will be made public.

IMPROVING ECONOMIC MOMENTUM

Stocks opened lower this morning on trade war concerns. The Dow is currently down 22 pts and the SPX is down .28%. Pharmaceuticals, transports, semiconductors and banks are all down. Real estate investment trusts (REITs) are up on the better than expected pending home sales report. The consumer staples sector is higher on a strong earnings report by Procter & Gamble (PG). European markets were uniformly and sharply lower in today’s session, whereas Asian markets traded higher overnight. Commodities are mostly higher, with WTI crude oil bouncing back toward $57.15/barrel. Bonds are mixed. Long-term Treasuries are up slightly, but corporates are down on the day. The iBoxx Investment Grade Corporate Bond ETF (LQD) is showing signs of topping out after 10% run this year. As we see more signs of improving economic momentum (see below) rates could move upward, pushing bond prices lower.


*The foregoing content reflects the author's personal opinions which may not coincide with the opinions of the firm, and are subject to change at any time without notice. Content provided herein is for informational purposes only and should not be used or construed as investment advice or a recommendation regarding the purchase or sale of any security. There is no guarantee that these statements, opinions, or forecasts provided herein will prove to be correct. Past performance is not a guarantee of future results. Indices are not available for direct investment. Any investor who attempts to mimic the performance of an index would incur fees and expenses which would reduce returns. All investing involves risk. Asset allocation and diversification does not ensure a profit or protect against a loss. Finally, please understand that–as with other social media–if you leave a comment, it will be made public.

HIGHER TRADE TARIFFS COME AT LAST

The major stock market averages opened lower as the trade war with China escalated. The Dow is down 290 pts and the SPX is down 1.4%. The pattern over the last few trading sessions has been a sharp decline in the morning following by a recovery in the afternoon. We’ll see if that pattern persists today; my guess is that traders won’t want to be “long” going into the weekend. Tech and healthcare are the worst performing sectors at the moment, down about 1.8%. Utilities is the only sector in the green. The VIX Index continues to hover around 20, which is typically considered the lower threshold of elevated fear among traders. Overseas things are looking better. European markets closed flat. China’s Shanghai Composite Index actually closed up by 3%! Commodities are trading mostly higher. Copper, gold and iron ore are up a bit. WTI crude oil is flat at $61.60/barrel. Bonds are following the same pattern we’ve seen through the week. Treasuries are up in price, down in yield; high yield corporates (junk) are down in price, up in yield. The 10-year Treasury yield is all the way back down to 2.43%. So bonds are painting a risk-off picture, if only temporarily.


*The foregoing content reflects the author's personal opinions which may not coincide with the opinions of the firm, and are subject to change at any time without notice. Content provided herein is for informational purposes only and should not be used or construed as investment advice or a recommendation regarding the purchase or sale of any security. There is no guarantee that these statements, opinions, or forecasts provided herein will prove to be correct. Past performance is not a guarantee of future results. Indices are not available for direct investment. Any investor who attempts to mimic the performance of an index would incur fees and expenses which would reduce returns. All investing involves risk. Asset allocation and diversification does not ensure a profit or protect against a loss. Finally, please understand that–as with other social media–if you leave a comment, it will be made public.

TRADE WAR REDUX?

Tough trade talk is again knocking the stock market around this morning. The Dow is currently down 440 pts and the SPX is off 1.6%. All eleven market sectors are in the red, let by tech (-2%). Several industry groups are down more than 2%, including semiconductors, transports, and biotechs. The VIX Index, a measure of investor fear, jumped to 20 for the first time since January. European stock markets closed down by 1-2% in today’s session. Obviously, crude oil fell on the news. WTI crude is trading back down around $61.30/barrel. Bonds are mixed. Corporates are flat to down, whereas lower-risk Treasury bonds are up on the day. The 10-year Treasury yield is back down to 2.46%.


*The foregoing content reflects the author's personal opinions which may not coincide with the opinions of the firm, and are subject to change at any time without notice. Content provided herein is for informational purposes only and should not be used or construed as investment advice or a recommendation regarding the purchase or sale of any security. There is no guarantee that these statements, opinions, or forecasts provided herein will prove to be correct. Past performance is not a guarantee of future results. Indices are not available for direct investment. Any investor who attempts to mimic the performance of an index would incur fees and expenses which would reduce returns. All investing involves risk. Asset allocation and diversification does not ensure a profit or protect against a loss. Finally, please understand that–as with other social media–if you leave a comment, it will be made public.

TROUBLE WITH TRADE

The major stock market averages gapped down at the open after news that US-China trade talks are breaking down. The Dow is currently down 220 pts and the SPX is down .95%. Consumer discretionary, industrials, tech and materials sectors are all down more than 1%. The VIX Index spiked briefly to 19 before falling back to 16. WTI crude oil dipped slightly to $61.60/barrel. The US dollar strengthened and gold is modestly higher today. Bonds are trading higher (except for junk). The 10-year Treasury yield fell back to 2.48%.


*The foregoing content reflects the author's personal opinions which may not coincide with the opinions of the firm, and are subject to change at any time without notice. Content provided herein is for informational purposes only and should not be used or construed as investment advice or a recommendation regarding the purchase or sale of any security. There is no guarantee that these statements, opinions, or forecasts provided herein will prove to be correct. Past performance is not a guarantee of future results. Indices are not available for direct investment. Any investor who attempts to mimic the performance of an index would incur fees and expenses which would reduce returns. All investing involves risk. Asset allocation and diversification does not ensure a profit or protect against a loss. Finally, please understand that–as with other social media–if you leave a comment, it will be made public.

March 22, 2018

Stocks opened sharply lower this morning (Dow -366 pts; SPX -1.3%) on trade war fears. It looks like the SPX wants to re-test its recent correction low. The tech sector is under pressure again today (-2%) as a result of Facebook’s (FB) user account data leak incident, which made its way back into headlines on Monday. Traders are using this as an excuse to take profits across the entire sector. Make no mistake, fundamentals are in the back seat today and traders are taking the lead. That’s why volatility is exploding so quickly. Everything could turn on a dime, however, so don’t be surprised if stocks end the session in the green. Most sectors are down over 1% in early trading. Only consumer staples, real estate and utilities are in the green. European markets are poised to close down about 2% and Asia was mostly lower overnight. Emerging markets stocks are getting hammered (-3%). WTI crude oil is down 1% to $64.50/barrel. Bonds are performing well as yields plunge. The 5-year and 10-year Treasury note yields are hovering around 2.61% and 2.81%, respectively.


*The foregoing content reflects the author's personal opinions which may not coincide with the opinions of the firm, and are subject to change at any time without notice. Content provided herein is for informational purposes only and should not be used or construed as investment advice or a recommendation regarding the purchase or sale of any security. There is no guarantee that these statements, opinions, or forecasts provided herein will prove to be correct. Past performance is not a guarantee of future results. Indices are not available for direct investment. Any investor who attempts to mimic the performance of an index would incur fees and expenses which would reduce returns. All investing involves risk. Asset allocation and diversification does not ensure a profit or protect against a loss. Finally, please understand that–as with other social media–if you leave a comment, it will be made public.