Bob Doll’s outlook this week at Nuveen Investments is less bearish than my own:
Trade-related risks seem to be growing. President Trump looks to be holding out hope that the U.S. economy will stay resilient in the face of escalating tariffs and rising tensions. So far, the U.S. economy has not faltered, thanks largely to continued strength in the consumer sector and labor market. But if business confidence crumbles (as it has in parts of Europe), it could lead to serious economic damage…..
The president’s recent actions to delay the implementation of some new tariffs show that he is sensitive to the market impact of his trade policies. But the erratic nature of his on-again, off-again approach adds too policy uncertainty. At this point, we can’t predict the ultimate economic impact from these issues. Our best guess is that the U.S. remains more than a year away from the next recession, but risks are rising. In addition to the solid consumer sector, we don’t see financial stress in the system. Liquidity is still broadly available, and fixed income credit spreads are generally stable outside of the energy sector.
With additional Federal Reserve rate cuts already priced into the markets and bond yields falling sharply, the only catalyst for better equity market performance could be improving global economic data. We hold out hope that the global economy will improve, and still think there is a better-than-even chance of manufacturing activity and export levels to grow. But those improvements will take some time, suggesting equities will remain volatile and vulnerable for now.
Where we seem to differ is on the inevitability of the US-China trade war escalating into full-blown disengagement. This week’s events have not helped.
China’s national English language newspaper, Global Times, under the People’s Daily, announced new tariffs.
Followed by an admission that the timing of the announcement was intended to cause maximum disruption to US stock markets.
The inevitable Twitter tantrum ensued.
The President also tweeted “Now the Fed can show their stuff!”
He is deluded if he thinks that the Fed can help him here. The best response would be announcement of a major infrastructure program (not a wall on the Mexican border). Otherwise business confidence will decline due to the increased uncertainty. Business investment will contract as a result and slow employment growth.
Retail sales have shown signs of recovery in recent months but will decline if consumer confidence erodes.
Especially consumer durables such as light motor vehicles and housing.
The global economy is already contracting, as indicated by falling crude oil
…and commodity prices.
Volatility (21-Day) is rising as the S&P 500 tests support at 2840. Breach is likely and would test primary support at 2750.
Bearish divergence (13-Week Money Flow) on both the S&P 500 and Nasdaq 100 (below) warn of selling pressure. The Nasdaq 100 is likely to test primary support at 7000.
The Russell 2000 Small Caps ETF (IWM) is testing primary support at 146. Follow through below 145 is likely and would signal a primary down-trend.
Fedex breach of support at 150 would also warn of a primary down-trend and slowing activity in the US economy.
We maintain our bearish outlook and have reduced equity exposure for international stocks to 40% of portfolio value because of elevated risk in the global economy.