We have just experienced a major market rout. Stocks are off over 5% in the last two days, largely because of almost esoteric worries about rising rates. The big question for investors is “where do we go from here?”. Well the Financial Times has tried to answer the question, and their answer is pretty simple—higher. The paper thinks this tumult will prove short-lived as they contend that it is really recession that ends bull markets, and the US isn’t anywhere near one right now. They suspect corporate earnings will come in strong in the next month and right the market ship.
FINSUM: We agree that this seems like the most likely outcome of the current rout, especially given the strength of the economy. However, we do have an outside worry that investors’ minds are finally changing about the risk/reward of stocks given rising rates and a toppy-looking economy.
If you are looking for the canary in the coal mine for the current market turbulence, look no further than a handful of stocks that should show investors where things are headed. Especially for the Dow. The index’s gains this year have largely come from three stocks: Apple, Boeing, and UnitedHealth Group. 16 stocks in the 30-stock index have losses this year, but because of the quirky way the Dow is calculated, some smaller market capitalization companies have much more weight than larger ones (weighting is done by share price not market cap). Accordingly, this trio has outsized importance to the index, and if they fall, the Dow is likely to get badly hurt.
FINSUM: The Dow is quite funky, but this story points out just how vulnerable the whole index looks right now.
The market took a big hit yesterday following the Fed’s expected rate hike. However, it was not the rate hike itself that caused the problems, rather it was the Fed’s statement and its dot plot. The Fed removed the word “accommodative” (regarding its policy) from its statement, which combined with its more hawkish dot plot, got investors worried. The Fed funds rate is now higher than inflation for the first time in several years. Stock markets fell on the news, with the Dow dropping 0.4%.
FINSUM: The Fed getting more hawkish should make investors worried, as the more restrictive Fed policy becomes, the sooner (and more likely) a recession will arrive.
Even if you aren’t thinking about it yet, the president is. In an interview yesterday, President Trump said that the stock market would crash if he were impeached. No one can be sure, but history suggests it would have little impact on the market. In the two previous cases in recent memory—Nixon and Clinton—the market behaved differently, falling sharply in the 12 months prior to Nixon’s impeachment, and rising before Clinton’s. JP Morgan’s best guess is that an impeachment wouldn’t be enough to derail the markets and economy itself.
FINSUM: Another interesting argument is that Trump wouldn’t ever be impeached until the market headed south, as that has happened in both of the previous instances (there was a brief but steep correction before Clinton’s impeachment). Nonetheless, we really don’t think Trump will be impeached.
The markets had a scintillating day yesterday. The Dow surged almost 400 points. Why? The reason was simple—the market stopped worrying so much about a US trade war with China. The two countries are planning further high level talks on trade and that alleviated the market’s fears. Barron’s proclaimed that “This is what happens when the market’s not worried about trade”, obviously referring to the strength of the economy and earnings. The market was also more optimistic on Turkey.
FINSUM: There does seem to be a lot of upside that has been stifled by geopolitical worries. Perhaps there is a nice run to be had if the US and China can come to an agreement.