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Nuveen Weighs the Effect of Trade Tariffs & Investors Bidding Up Stock Prices

Posted by WrapManager's Investment Policy Committee
March 15, 2018


Investors look past trade risks as stocks gain ground...

President Trump’s proclamation of 10 - 25% trade tariffs dominated most of the financial headlines last week, but investors looked past the negatives to bid up stock prices. The S&P 500 Index rose 3.6% last week. Half of that gain came on Friday, following a strong labor market report that showed jobs increases and stable wages. For the week, industrials, financials, technology and materials were all up over 4%, while utilities lagged. Treasury yields also rose last week in the face of stronger economic data.

Read a summary of Nuveen Asset Management's weekly market review below, or download the entire investment commentary as a PDF.

Investors focused on the positives last week (particularly a strong February employment report) and bid stock prices higher. Markets did not react negatively to last week’s tariff announcements, but we see more downside than upside. Over the long-term, we are growing more concerned about what rising bond yields, tighter monetary policy and higher inflation could mean for stocks.

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 Weekly Themes:

  • Higher tariffs could potentially damage economic growth. Donald Trump’s proclamation of a 25% tariff on imported steel and a 10% tariff on aluminum contributed to political uncertainty. It drew sharp criticism from Republican leaders in Congress, played a role in Gary Cohn’s departure from the White House and raised the possibility of retaliatory action from other countries. We believe such tariffs are effectively taxes that can drive a wedge between producers and consumers, and are more likely to hurt economic growth and jobs creation than they are to help.
  • A more competitive U.S. economy should help narrow a growing trade gap. The U.S. energy renaissance, narrower wage disparity between the U.S. and China and the effects of U.S. corporate tax reform should all help make the U.S. economy more dynamic and competitive. This, in turn, could help narrow the U.S. trade deficit as a percentage of U.S. gross domestic product.
  • Investor sentiment has improved dramatically over the past month. One month ago, markets were roiled by a surge in wages, worries about rising bond yields and geopolitical uncertainties. While those fears haven’t vanished, investors have been remarkably sanguine in reaction to last week’s economic data and political news.

For the complete commentary from Senior Portfolio Manager and Chief Equity Strategist Bob Doll, download Nuveen Asset Management's latest commentary, or learn why BlackRock is long on short-term bonds.

To learn more about Nuveen Asset Management and other Money Managers, give us a call at 1-800-541-7774 or contact us here to speak with a knowledgeable Wealth Manager about your investment portfolio.

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