- President Donald Trump roiled markets once again Wednesday with tweets that escalated tensions with Russia.
- Traders shrugged off monthly US consumer price data that was in line with economist estimates.
- The early losses marked a reversal of two days of gains driven largely by reduced fears around a global trade war.
- Declines extended in afternoon trading after Federal Reserve minutes showed officials see US trade spats with China as an economic risk.
- Follow the Dow Jones industrial average and Nasdaq 100 indexes.
US stocks tumbled Wednesday as President Donald Trump escalated tensions with Russia through a series of tweets, rattling investor nerves at a time when fears of a global trade war were starting to ebb.
Equity futures extended losses just before 7 a.m. ET as Trump tweeted for Russia to “Get ready” because missiles would “be coming, nice and new and ‘smart!'” Trump has been weighing whether to strike Syria over a suspected chemical weapons attack of a rebel-held town Saturday that left dozens of people dead and that the US and local aid groups have blamed on the Russian-backed Syrian government.
The stock decline worsened on a second Russia-focused tweet from Trump roughly 45 minutes later, and premarket losses reached as much as 1.2%.
As Trump’s latest tweets dominated headlines, US investors shrugged off a Labour Department report showing US consumer prices in March were in line with economist estimates. Traders have been keenly focused on inflation readings in recent months as they search for any signals that the Federal Reserve will alter its pace of monetary tightening.
Then, in the afternoon, stocks resumed earlier declines after the minutes from the Federal Reserve‘s March meeting showed considerable concern over the mounting specter of a trade war.
Yet while the degree of Wednesday’s stock market decline may seem jarring, it should be noted that the Dow surged almost 500 points over the two days prior, meaning the decline hasn’t even erased half of that. Overall, the market’s recent propensity for large moves shows the low-volatility doldrums of 2017 are over and suggests multihundred-point Dow fluctuations are the new normal.
Of course, Trump hasn’t helped matters much, and the surge in volatility is a clear byproduct of his recent actions. Before Wednesday’s escalation with Russia, whose ambassador to Lebanon had earlier suggested Russia would retaliate to any US strike in Syria, the president had been locked in a trade stare down with China for weeks, stoking investor fears of a trade war.
The chart below shows just how choppy trading has gotten in US equities in recent weeks amid Trump’s geopolitical maneuverings.
It’s also possible that the selling is being driven by a shift in investment tactics that has been highlighted by Bank of America. After years of riding the “buy the dip” strategy to success, investors seem to have flipped the switch and are now “selling the rip” – or using periods of strength as an excuse to offload holdings.
Check out Business Insider’s in-depth coverage of the market’s recent turbulence:
- BANK OF AMERICA: A wildly successful stock-trading strategy is no longer working – and it signals that a bubble has burst
- One Wall Street firm just made a big change to its outlook – and it perfectly encapsulates the challenges ahead for markets
- The market’s most outspoken bear sees recent turbulence fuelling his forecast of a 60% stock drop – and says it’s too late to get out
- Bank of America knows what it will take to send the market into a ‘full bull detox’ – and we’re dangerously close
- ‘This time, things really are different’: A $US150 billion investment chief explains why he’s so nervous about the ‘wild card’ trade war
- The best stock trade of 2018 is a reversal from last year as turbulence rocks the market
- BANK OF AMERICA: A huge shift is happening in markets – and it’s threatening to derail a favourite investor strategy
In the bond market, the 10-year US Treasury yield fell less than 1 basis point, to 2.79%, near the key 3% level that traders are closely watching. Bank of America Merrill Lynch has said a trade war could move yields higher in the medium to long term.
Here’s a rundown of other asset classes:
- US Dollar Index, -0.1%
- Crude oil (WTI), +1.9%
- Cboe Volatility Index (VIX), -2%
- Gold, +0.7%
- Bitcoin, +1.12%