It’s been a volatile few sessions for the S&P 500. It started last week when the Fed disappointed investors after telling us rate cuts were not being considered in response to slowing global growth. Then this weekend Trump shocked markets by announcing he was slapping additional tariffs on China.
So much for the easy glide higher. But we always knew the good times could not last and a bout of volatility was inevitable. We couldn’t predict the why and when, but the fact this happened shouldn’t surprise anyone.
The question everyone wants to be answered is if this is just a quick bout of indigestion. Or if this is the start of a larger pullback. For that, we need to dig deeper and look at the evidence.
Last week’s dip due to the Fed’s disappointment was fleeting and by Friday, prices had already returned to the highs. That decisive resilience told us those worries were not a serious threat to this market. But this week’s tumble following Trump’s trade war escalation is far less compelling.
Stock owners always run the risk of new and unexpected headlines. But this latest round of trade war rhetoric is not new and it is not unexpected. The trade war started more than a year ago and six months ago Trump threatened to tax everything coming out of China at 25%. But these headlines fell off the front pages during this year’s historic rebound and traders had largely forgotten about them…..until this week.
There are two reasons I don’t think this latest escalation is a big deal:
First, last year’s trade wars didn’t break the economy. Meaning a further escalation will probably also have a limited impact. These developments are most definitely not helpful, but they are not crippling either. We need to be wary of a tipping point where a little extra has an oversized effect, but assuming we avoid that, the next round of tariffs will have as limited of an impact as the previous rounds.
Second, it is widely known Trump judges his presidency by the performance of the stock market. As he shifts into reelection mode, he will be far more pragmatic and won’t take risks that damage his chances. While he might act tough, if this starts dragging down the stock market, expect him to back off pretty quickly.
No doubt lingering uncertainty will drive near-term volatility, but it will be far less dramatic than last year. Most of the people who fear trade war headlines bailed out last year and were replaced by confident dip buyers.
The next meaningful support level is 2,850 and the 50dma. That was a near-term bottom for Tuesday’s selling. Break that and far more durable support rests underneath us at 2,800. If that fails to hold, then we need to reevaluate all of our assumptions. But until then, this is just another buyable dip on our way higher. People always pray for a pullback, but when the market gods answer their prayers, they are too scared to buy the discounts.
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Tags: S&P 500 Nasdaq $SPY $SPX $QQQ $IWM
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.