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The clearest sign the market sell-off is all about trade

Myles Udland
Markets Reporter
Specialist Frank Masiello is reflected in his screen on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, FIle)

In the month of May, the S&P 500 (^GSPC) is down more than 4%.

And data published Friday by Bespoke Investment Group makes clear that worries about the U.S.-China trade fight are top of mind for investors.

So far this month, companies in the S&P 500 with the highest international revenue exposure are down an average of 10%. Companies with the least amount of international revenue exposure are down just over 2%.

And the more a company is exposed to the global economy, the more the market is punishing their stock.

Companies with the most international revenue exposure have been punished by the market this month, a sign of investor anxiety about the U.S.-China trade war.

“As long as the market is worried about trade, this trend should continue, so it would be best to focus on stocks with all domestic revenue exposure instead of the internationals,” the firm writes.

“If we start to see the internationals outperform, it will be a sign that the market is starting to move past it or that some type of resolution is likely imminent.”

Amid concerns over the trade war and a weakening global economy, investors have also sought dividend paying stocks as a safe haven.

Bespoke notes that the decile of S&P 500 members that pay the highest dividend are down around 3% so far in May compared to stocks that pay no dividend, which have declined nearly 5% this month.

Dividend paying stocks have been punished a bit less than companies with no dividend payouts, a sign of investors seeking safety in the current market.

This preference also echoes what we’re hearing from stock market experts about how to weather the current bout of market volatility.

On Yahoo Finance’s live show The Final Round on Thursday, market expert Peter Kenny said that dividend payers are his favorite area of the market in this current environment.

“Without question, the area that I have really promoted in my note is...the dividend payers,” Kenny said. “And not just dividend payers, but companies that pay dividends and raise dividends over an extended period of time irrespective of the economic landscape.”

Myles Udland is a reporter and anchor at Yahoo Finance. Follow him on Twitter @MylesUdland

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