In yesterday's podcast I suggested that while the market's reaction to Italian politics was understandable, given the time frame and the process to come before Italy succumbs to populist rule (if it indeed does), the quick, steep decline could only be described as knee-jerk (Italian stocks are up 3% in the premarket this morning).
Unfortunately, stocks had something else to contend with in yesterday's headlines; a something else that stands to dampen what could be a substantially strong rally off of yesterday's lows:
China Surprise The U.S. has suddenly decided to go ahead with tariffs and sanctions against China, despite being in the middle of trade negotiations. Those talks, scheduled for this weekend, might now not go ahead. The Trump administration said Wall Street Journal that it will hit Chinese imports with tariffs after all, and restrict Chinese access to sensitive U.S. tech. These measures were supposed to be on hold, so everyone is surprised, to say the least. Is it a negotiating ploy? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
EU Tariffs Meanwhile, the European Union appears to have given up on winning a full carve-out from President Donald Trump's steel and aluminum tariffs. "Realistically, if the U.S. decides to refrain from applying duties I expect them nonetheless to want to impose some sort of cap on EU exports," EU trade chief Cecilia Malmstrom warned members of the European Parliament yesterday. The EU's temporary exemption from the tariffs will expire Financial Times.In the immediate-term the market may indeed shrug off the above as yet more crying wolf. But we're getting close to the point of no near-term* return.
*I qualify that closing statement with "near-term", as the market reaction to a U.S./China/EU trade war will be the definition of ugly. I.e., the political risk of major market, and ultimately economic, fallout would undoubtedly have the parties quickly back to the bargaining table.