On Thursday the S&P 500 rallied after Trump unveiled his less-bad-than-feared tariff plans. He included exemptions for Mexico and Canada and left the door open for further flexibility with other allies. The market’s strength puts us just below the 50dma, a level that has acted as resistance the last few weeks.
I’m impressed with the market’s resilience in the face of what could have been interpreted as bad news. Most Republicans and members of the business community opposed Trump’s tariff plans because they believe it will cost more jobs than it creates. But either the market doesn’t care, or it doesn’t think it will be a big deal because we already erased the losses following Trump’s surprise announcement.
A market that rallies on bad news is a strong market. It doesn’t matter which side of the tariff debate we fall on, we are traders and the only thing that matters is what the market thinks. When confident owners refuse to sell, it doesn’t matter what the headlines are. I’m impressed with the market’s strength and the path of least resistance is still higher. If we were going to crumble on these headlines, it would have happened already. That means there is not much downside risk over the near-term.
Bitcoin finds itself in a bit of a rut as it stumbled under $9k for the first time in several weeks. What started as a routine dip a few days ago built downside momentum and we already exceeded the lows of a couple of weeks ago. Either we are carving out a near-term double bottom and will resume the rebound over $12k. Or owners will panic and bailout before “things get worse”.
While I still think there is more downside for BTC over the medium and long-term, it takes six months or more for a bursting bubble to find a bottom. That means there are still many months of bounces along the way. Now that we undercut the late February lows and triggered all that reactive and defensive selling, we should be in better shape. I wouldn’t rush in at these levels, but if we bounce above $10k, we should be on our way past $12k.
Tuesday was a relatively benign session for the S&P500 with prices bouncing between modest losses and gains. But that no longer matters because shortly after the close, Trump’s top economic advisor dropped a bombshell by resigning in protest over the proposed tariffs.
This is a major blow to business groups because Gary Cohn was the leading proponent for business interests inside the Trump administration. Unfortunately he lost the tug-of-war with the pro-nationalist advisors. Potentially this marks a big shift in Trump’s policy priorities going forward.
The market is most definitely concerned about this development and futures are down more than 1%. Previously prices had been recovering from last week’s selloff on hope Trump would moderate his stance on universally applied tariffs. But now it looks increasingly likely we are headed for a trade war with our North American and European allies. I warned readers last week this could get ugly and unfortunately it looks like that is the way this is headed.
I most definitely disagree with Trump, there are no winners in a trade war. The proposed steel and aluminum tariffs will raise prices on goods Americans buy. Higher prices means less money left over for other things. And that is just the start. Europe already outlined retaliatory tariffs they will apply to American made products. As a whole, the EU’s economy and population is larger than the United States, so that will definitely have an impact on domestic exporters. Even the Aluminum Association that represents 144 producers wrote a letter to Trump saying they don’t support these tariffs because they think it will harm their customers.
Different reports I’ve seen said these tariffs will add about 1,000 jobs in the steel and aluminum industry, but costs us tens of thousands of jobs in other industries because of the higher steel and aluminum costs as well as the consequences of foreign retaliatory tariffs. The math just doesn’t add up and is why almost all business leaders and most Republicans in Congress are strongly opposed to Trump’s plan. The only logical conclusion is Cohn resigned because he felt like his views were not being listened to and that most likely means Trump is siding with the pro-nationalists on this issue, not the business community and fellow Republicans.
Inevitably this won’t be as bad as people fear because lobbyists will put loopholes large enough to drive a truck through, but we should expect a lot more volatility over the near-term as the trade war rhetoric ramps up. We will likely see further weakness over the next week. I don’t think this is a reason to dump long-term positions unless the retaliations get ridiculous, but swing-traders should wait for better prices before buying the dip.
Bitcoin prices continue to hover above $10k despite a wave of negative headlines over recent days. There was more talk of Korea and other countries banning Bitcoin. A month or two ago this would have sent prices tumbling. Instead we are only down $1k from recent highs. That tells us sentiment is improving as prices rebound from the $6k lows. The path of least resistance remains higher over the near-term, but it will take weeks for us to break $12k, $13k, and flirt with $14k. In the meantime, expect lots of back-and-forth.