This morning President Donald Trump said that talks with China planned for next month could be called off. “We’ll see whether or not we keep our meeting in September,” Trump said as he left the White House for a fundraiser in the Hamptons. “If we do, that’s fine. If we don’t, that’s fine.”
What’s interesting to me is the stock market reaction: investors and traders basically shrugged.
The Standard & Poor’s 500 closed down 0.66% today, Friday, August 9, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average dipped 0.34%. The NASDAQ Composite fell more heavily by 1.00% and the Russell 2000 Small Cap Index was lower by 0.93%. The Financial Select SPDR ETF (XLF) was down 0.33% and the Technology Select Sector SPDR EFT (XLK) was down 1.15%. These moves pretty much continued the pattern of this week when, after a big plunge on Monday, stocks have alternated between bouncing and then selling lower as traders tried to profit from very short-term volatility.
In addition gold climbed a scant 0.01% and silver gained 0.14%.
With the President’s new 10% tariffs on an additional $300 billion in Chinese exports to the United States due to take effect on September 1, you might think that a delay in the next round of talks, currently scheduled for September, would be a big deal. But the market reaction today says you would be wrong. I think that’s because the financial markets have written off any chance that these talks will speedily resolve the trade war. So today’s comments from Trump count as old news.
Which doesn’t mean, of course, that there isn’t new news out there that would move the market. A move by the White House to raise tariffs to 25% from their current 10% would probably count as new negative news. So would news that China has slapped duties on U.S. oil exports. Or evidence of an intervention by Washington to weaken the U.S. dollar and the almost certainty that the People’s Bank would let the yuan slide further in response.
You’ll note that those are all examples of negative news. I’m hard put to come up with something on the positive side of the news ledger that is even reasonably likely.