The market reversal that began on Tuesday has carried over into today’s trading as stocks continue to exhibit a high level of volatility. At the time of this writing, the markets are down 2.3% as measured by the S&P 500. The Dow is off 2.8% while international markets are down 1.2% and the Shanghai composite closed down 1.8%.
Stocks experienced a relief rally last week and into early this week on Fed Chair Jerome Powell’s more dovish comments indicating a more measured approach to interest rate hikes in 2019. This was followed by optimism on progress regarding the trade issues between the U.S. and China last weekend at the G-20 meeting in Buenos Aires. Initial reports stated that there was somewhat of a ‘trade truce’ reached between the two countries that would delay the escalation of tariffs for 90 days and include Chinese purchases of agriculture and liquid natural gas. Markets turned on Tuesday when the validity of those initial reports were called into question, something of which we have not seen any hard evidence.
The catalyst for today’s drop seems to be the arrest of the CFO of Chinese tech giant Huawei in Canada on charges that the firm violated U.S. sanctions by selling to Iran. This has been an issue with Chinese firms in the past, notably the recent fines levied against ZTE for similar allegations. Chinese officials are reportedly outraged by the detainment of Meng Wanzhou, daughter of the prominent CEO of the Chinese tech giant. The arrest, which occurred on the same day (December 1) as the Xi-Trump dinner, has stoked fears of an escalation of the trade tensions between the U.S. and China and that any progress that may have been made last weekend at the G-20 has been negated.
It is unclear what the ramifications of the arrest will have on the big picture trade negotiations but the United States’ handling of it will be a near term focus of markets given the prominence of Huawei (comparable to Apple in the U.S.) and the existing controversy of the firm’s development of 5G networks around the world. Old Second Wealth Management’s investment professionals will continue to monitor the situation and provide pertinent updates.
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