This morning you could hear the gears whirring as Wall Street strategists tried to position their portfolios so they were hedged against U.S-China trade war risk but also positioned to catch any bounce on good news on the trade front and ahead of the September 18 Federal Reserve meeting.
That produced an odd market structure where, as of 12:15 p.m New York time, the Standard & Poor’s 500 was down just 0.19% but the NASDAQ Composite was actually up 0.26% and some risk stocks such as biotech Nektar Therapeutics (NKTR) were sporting decent gains (1.68% in Nektar’s case.) At the same time, risk hedges were also up with the VanEck gold miners and junior gold miners ETFs higher by 1.25% (GDX) and 0.85% (GDXJ), respectively.
The dual-pronged approach to risk and reward didn’t last far into the afternoon, however. By 2:15 p.m. the drop in the S&P 500 had grown to 0.30% and the NASDAQ had gone negative to the tune of a loss of 0.42%. A recent market favorite such as Restaurant Brands International (QSR), the parent of hot chicken sandwich play Popeyes, went from a gain of 0.95% to a gain of just 0.18%. Salesforce.com (CRM), which had been riding last week’s earnings beat higher in recent sessions, moved to a loss of 1.54%.
Gold itself was 0.94% higher to $1551.60 an ounce as of 2:15 p.m. Silver, which has outperformed the yellow metal recently, climbed 2.95% to $18.39 an ounce.
The yield on the 10-year Treasury fell 5 basis points to 1.48% as of 2:5 p.m., moving the Treasury market back into inversion with the yield on the 2-year Treasury at 1.52%, down just 2 basis points from Monday’s 1.54%. (An inversion in the Treasury yield curve, where the yields of shorter maturity Treasuries are higher than yields on longer maturity Treasuries is often seen as an indicator of coming recession.)