What to do on the eve of Trump’s trade war

By Jani Ziedins | End of Day Analysis

Jul 05

Free After-Hours Update:

On Thursday the S&P500 closed higher, erasing Tuesday’s pre-holiday slump. Trump’s trade war continues to dominate headlines, but to the great frustration of bears, these negative stories have been unable to dent this market. Are we on the verge of collapsing as bears claim, or do they have this all wrong?

Trump’s Chinese tariffs go into effect Friday and China promised immediate retaliations. At this point the first round of tariffs is unavoidable and I don’t know anyone still hoping for a last-minute reprieve. Yet on the eve of the trade war, paradoxically the market finished higher. Something doesn’t seem right.

Either we stubbornly argue with the market, or we try to understand why the market is doing what it is doing. I learned a long time ago that no one wins an argument with the market, so I always go for the latter option. Rather than insist the market should be crashing, I want to understand why it is is holding up so well in the face of these obviously negative headlines.

Anyone who has been reading this blog already knows the answer since I have been talking about this market’s resilience for weeks. I wrote the following June 26th when we first tested 2,600 support and it is every bit as valid today:

News gets priced in over time and we have been talking about Trump’s trade war for months. Anyone who feared these headlines bailed out months ago and was replaced by far more confident dip buyers. This turnover in ownership created a far more resilient market and explains this lack of a crash. If owners don’t sell a headline, it stops mattering. Since we trade the market and not the news, if the market doesn’t care, then neither should we.

Anyone can identify the reasons the market did something weeks after the fact when everyone knows what happens. But it takes far more thoughtful insight and analysis to figure out what is going to happen before it happens. I wish I had a crystal ball, but after doing this long enough and learning the eccentricities of the market, I don’t need one because the market always tells us what it wants to do before it does it. This time the market was definitively telling us it wanted to go higher, not lower, and that made this latest bout of weakness a buying opportunity, not a time to bailout before things get worse.

Quite simply, if this market wanted to crash, it would have happened by now. We have been living under the clouds of a trade war for months. If it didn’t matter before, that tells us it is already priced in and we don’t need to worry about it. Without a doubt we could slip a little further, but that would just give us an even better buying opportunity. If this market was afraid of Trump’s trade war, we would have crashed months ago. If the market doesn’t care, then neither should we.

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About the Author

Jani Ziedins (pronounced Ya-nee) is a full-time investor and writer who has successfully traded stocks and options for more than a decade. He earned a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from the Colorado School of Mines and an MBA and M.S. Marketing from the University of Colorado Denver. His prior professional experience includes manufacturing engineering at Fortune 500 companies, structural engineering, small business consultant, collegiate instructor, and managing investment real estate. He is now fortunate enough to trade full-time from home, affording him the luxury of spending extra time with his wife and two young children.

Andrew July 7, 2018

Is it because there was little effect on economy from the trade war, which has not really started yet? What if the trade war starts and then shows serious effect on economy, … and as a result, scare the market …?

    Jani Ziedins July 7, 2018

    Yes, if the trade war tips us into a recession, the stocks will tumble because of the recession. But at the moment the stock market thinks the economy is strong enough to absorb any negative effects of the trade war. Stock prices will remain resilient as long as we keep getting positive economic news like Friday’s jobs report.

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