Week In Review: Trade Tensions Weigh
Stocks fell this week as trade tensions helped to keep buyers at bay. The benchmark S&P 500 index ended the week lower by 0.9%. The tech-heavy Nasdaq lost 0.7%, but did notch a new all-time high on Wednesday, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average tumbled 2.0%.
At the start of the week, investors were still weighing the prospect of a trade war between the U.S. and China after President Trump confirmed last Friday that he has approved a 25% tariff on $50 billion worth of Chinese goods. Beijing responded swiftly to that news, vowing to implement equivalent duties on U.S. goods.
The story added a new chapter on Monday evening when President Trump asked his administration to identify an additional $200 billion worth of Chinese goods that he says will be hit with a 10% tariff should China follow through on its promise to retaliate. In addition, if China retaliates against the new $200 billion list, Mr. Trump said he will place tariffs on yet another $200 billion worth of Chinese goods.
The industrial sector, which is viewed as being in the crosshairs of protectionist trade actions, was the worst-performing S&P 500 group this week, losing 3.4%. Similarly, chipmakers, which derive a large chunk of their revenue from shipments to China, were also under pressure, sending the Philadelphia Semiconductor Index lower by 3.6%.
President Trump issued another tariff threat on Friday, this time targeting the European Union. The president said the U.S. will be imposing a 20% tariff on all automobiles imported from EU countries if the EU fails to remove duties on imports of U.S. automobiles. On a related note, as of Friday, the European Union has officially implemented tariffs on $3.2 billion worth of U.S. goods in retaliation to U.S. tariffs on imports of steel and aluminum that went into effect earlier this month.
Elsewhere, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) met in Vienna this week to discuss easing production caps that have been in place for more than 18 months. The meeting was reportedly contentious, but the countries eventually agreed to boost oil output by a less-than-expected 600,000 barrels per day. WTI crude futures rallied to a four-week high on Friday following the news, and the energy sector reclaimed losses registered earlier in the week, finishing with a weekly gain of 1.5%.
In U.S. corporate news, Walgreens Boots Alliance (WBA) will be joining the Dow Jones Industrial Average on June 26, taking the spot of General Electric (GE), which was one of the original Dow components and has been a continuous part of the average for more than a century. The decision follows a disastrous 18-month stretch for GE shares, which have dropped around 60% since the end of 2016.
Separately, media names returned to the spotlight on Wednesday when Walt Disney (DIS) increased its offer for 21st Century Fox's (FOXA) entertainment assets. Disney is now offering $38 per share, up from its previous offer of $28 per share and better than last week's offer from Comcast (CMCSA) of $35 per share.
E-commerce companies, including Amazon (AMZN), eBay (EBAY), Wayfair (W), Overstock.com (OSTK), and Etsy (ETSY), sold off on Thursday after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that states can require online retailers to collect sales tax, overturning a 1992 precedent.
Also of note, Intel's (INTC) chief executive, Brian Krzanich, resigned after breaking the company's non-fraternization policy, Oracle (ORCL) shares dropped to a 15-month low after the company's quarterly update provided less insight than usual into its growing cloud business, and Starbucks (SBUX) shares hit a three-year low after the company announced it will be scaling back store growth.
U.S. Treasuries ended the week on a modestly higher note, pushing the benchmark 10-yr yield lower by two basis points to 2.90%.
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