Donald Trump keeps doing it: making Wall Street worry, at least a bit, with his trade war talk.
The Dow Jones industrial average fell 219 points Wednesday, to 24,700, after the US set additional tariffs on goods coming from China.
But that was the first time in about a week that stocks reacted negatively to Trump’s tariff pronouncements, despite the fact that these taxes on imported goods are going to reduce the amount of business US companies see, lower their profits and cause inflation.
And when foreign countries like China or Canada or the nations in the European Union raise tariffs on American goods being sold in their areas of the world, US companies are going to suffer even more.
So trade wars and tariffs are bad — except that, until Wednesday, the stock market has been acting differently.
Stocks have been rising nicely since the trade war with China began a week ago.
Since then, the stock market, as measured by the admittedly faulty Dow, has climbed: 100 points on Friday, 320 points on Monday and 143 points on Tuesday.
There are other reasons the market could be rising — namely, the traders who aren’t on vacation (and there are lots) decided to push prices higher when sellers were on the beach. (Yes, I’m saying that people can have their way with the market.)
And there are loads of things ahead that could trip the market up — investigations in Washington not the least of them.
And the trade war isn’t the only thing going on right now, that’s for sure.
Last Friday, the Labor Department reported that a good number of new jobs were created in July, even though the unemployment rate rose. That’s good for the stock market, unless you are worried about the economy overheating and the Federal Reserve raising interest rates more aggressively.
Then, Monday night, Trump announced that he was picking Brett Kavanaugh to fill the upcoming vacancy on the Supreme Court. While that doesn’t look like it would be important to Wall Street at first glance, experts have been saying that Kavanaugh will be pro-business and will come out against government agencies that flex any unconstitutional muscle against companies.
Again, good news for Wall Street.
True, the Kavanaugh announcement came at 9 p.m. Monday, which was long after the stock market closed. But the candidate list had been whittled down to a select few and Kavanaugh’s name did start popping up while Wall Street traders were still able to place their bets. It would also not be surprising if news of Kavanaugh’s pick leaked out early, since a lot of people would have been consulted beforehand.
But the best thing happening for the stock market might be the anticipation of corporate earnings reports, which start trickling out next week.
Thomson Reuters, which tracks corporate profits, says combined earnings for the 500 companies in the Standard & Poor’s index are expected to rise 20.6 percent, and revenues will be up 8.1 percent.
Earnings will become better than revenues because most of those profits are coming from the lower tax rates that companies have been given under the Trump tax plan that went into effect early this year.
So, companies didn’t have to sell any more of their products in order to see dramatic profit improvement.
But those earnings reports could also spell trouble for the stock market. Experts will be on the alert for warnings of future profit and revenue falloffs — especially those caused by the tariff increases — which, you see, really aren’t good news.
- Facebook Messenger