Not off to the best of starts for this Monday, the Dow Jones is trading at 25,977.20, down 507 points, or 1.92% as of 11:22 am ET. Looking overseas, the Hang Seng/Shanghai is lower 2.8%, putting them down 15% from a recent high back in April. Similar results for Nikkei, Italy, Germany, and basically the world, as the market is down around 1-2.5% everywhere.
In the U.S., semiconductors being exposed to China means weakness can be understandable. MSCI and the China ETF for semiconductors is down. Energy is taking a beating too; oil is down, as well as domestic energy companies. Utilities are basically flat. All that said, gold is doing quite well; up 3%.
So now the question becomes, is August going to be a repeat of this past May, which led to a turnaround in June?
Looking back at May, here’s what happened: Trade talks broke down, the U.S. hiked up tariffs for China from 10% to 25%, and China retaliated with tariffs of their own. The results of all of this – S&P down 6%, Crude Oil down 16%, and the 10-year Yield was down to 2.1%, the lowest since 2017.
All of that said, in early June, people were believing in some kind of deal that would happen at the G20 meeting. As a result, the markets rose, and a truce actually happened. The difference this time around, with August, the truce has gone away and there’s not a G20 meeting coming up. Additionally, seeing China letting its currency move the way it has today could be a sign that they’re stealing themselves away for a longer conflict.
So now it’s time to determine what’s safe to buy into.
Let’s consider telecom stocks. Back in May, this was a relatively safe play. Verizon, AT&T, and American Tower held up relatively well. Similarly, health care giants such as Tenet and Centene held up back in in as well. Beyond that, and some utility stocks, things can become more difficult.
If you’re thinking of domestic energy stocks, think again. Looking at Valero, Marathon, and others; they got hit hard in May. Homebuilders dropped as well; not as hard as the whole S&P, but it was down. Same with Aero & Defense, and Cyber Security as well.
What’s the point of all of this, as CNBC’s Bob Pisani explains, “There are some areas of safety, some health care, some telecom, [and]some utilities, but overall the market is expensive right now. Even consumer staples that are considered to be defensive are very expensive, so there’s not a lot of places to high when the market is this pricey; not a lot of stuff that’s dramatically down 10% and still has complete domestic exposure.”
Really, what the market appears to be saying is that the choices for investors, beyond simply holding back, is that “rotate is a tougher game to play when the market is this expensive.”
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