After hitting new highs with such regularity, it was becoming tedious, US stocks saw a sharp sell-off yesterday. Is this a problem or just a little turbulence on the flight to growth?
The Dow Jones lost 1.78 per cent yesterday, the S&P 500 lost 1.82 per cent, and the NASDAQ Composite lost 2.57 per cent – with Apple taking a hammering.
Those falls seem substantial, but to put them in context, the Dow merely fell to a three and half week low. The NASDAQ was lower on April 21st.
So why the fall?
It seems that the problems of Donald Trump have much to do with it.
Markets have been enjoying what has been called a Trump Trade. They have been buying in anticipation of lower corporation tax, expecting money, currently sitting overseas, to be repatriated to the US. Apple shares did especially well on the back of such expectations.
It always was odd though.
The New York media seemed to be about as anti Trump as you can get, but New York’s Wall Street seemed to love what he stood for.
Now markets have finally woken up to what was obvious to many people from day one: a President Trump is not all good news, and besides, he may not get Congress support for the ideas that the markets particulary love, he may even get impeached.
Who knows what Robert Mueller, the former FBI chief appointed by the US Justice Department – and not by the President – to investigate Russia’s alleged interference with the US election will find.
The markets are worried about this, but frankly their reaction from day one has been perverse. A less open world, one that sees a more hostile reaction to free trade, one that puts fears over climate change on the back burner, is not a world that is conducive to a growing global economy long-term. When the markets value assets, they are meant to estimate future income into perpetuity and discount that to give a net current value. They are supposed to look long-term, instead they seem to struggle to see beyond the length of a single traders’ nose
Then again, booming stock markets do see bad days. It is unavoidable, maybe May 17th was just a bad day.