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Dow Jones Today: Hello Darkness, My Old Friend

Todd Shriber

Investors waiting on encouraging comments from leaders such as Fed Chairman Jerome Powell and President Donald Trump did not get what they were hoping for Friday.

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Stocks tumbled after President Trump took to Twitter (NASDAQ:TWTR) to — you guessed it — deride China AND the Fed. As I noted on Thursday, Powell’s comments from the Jackson Hole economic conference today took on added importance after the FOMC minutes out earlier this week indicated the July rate cut doesn’t mean more are coming. A pair of Fed governors affirmed that notion Thursday.

Put simply, Powell’s Wyoming remarks weren’t dovish enough for the president or markets as evidenced by Friday’s tumble. Trump pondered on Twitter “My only question is, who is our bigger enemy, Jay Powell or Chairman Xi?”

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Speaking of China, the world’s second-largest economy is promising new tariffs on U.S. goods, an overture to which Trump had plenty to say.

“The vast amounts of money made and stolen by China from the United States, year after year, for decades, will and must STOP,” said the president on Twitter. “Our great American companies are hereby ordered to immediately start looking for an alternative to China, including bringing .your companies HOME and making your products in the USA. I will be responding to China’s Tariffs this afternoon. This is a GREAT opportunity for the United States. Also, I am ordering all carriers, including Fed Ex, Amazon, UPS and the Post Office, to SEARCH FOR & REFUSE all deliveries of Fentanyl from China (or anywhere else!). Fentanyl kills 100,000 Americans a year. President Xi said this would stop – it didn’t. Our Economy, because of our gains in the last 2 1/2 years, is MUCH larger than that of China. We will keep it that way!”

All of that conjecture gets us to a glum end of the week with Nasdaq Composite sinking 3% while the S&P 500 lost 2.59%. The Dow Jones Industrial Average slid 2.37%. In late trading, just one Dow stock was in the green: Boeing (NYSE:BA).


Too Many Losers on the Dow

In late trading, 19 of the 29 Dow offenders were lower by 2% or more, underscoring just how bad of day it was for equities. Among those losers were plenty of tariff-sensitive names, including Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), which was the worst performer in the Dow today with a loss of 4.62%.

In other news, it’s hard to get excited about a stock like Nike (NYSE:NKE) on a day when trade tensions surge and Foot Locker (NYSE:FL) plunges on bad earnings. Shares of Nike reflected as much with a Friday slide of 3.33%, but at least one analyst defended the athletic apparel giant. Guggenheim named Nike to its “best ideas” list today.

The research firm said “the company is positioned well to maneuver through tariff risks, and that Nike’s latest earnings and robust product pipeline were impressive. Also of note, Nike has joined 31 other major retailers in signing a pact for better environmental efforts, which will be presented at this weekend’s Group of Seven (G-7) summit,” according to Schaeffer’s Investment Research.

In the search for good news today, one that was difficult as it pertains to members of the Dow Jones Industrial Average, another tidbit I have to offer up is Betsy Graseck, global head of banks and diversified finance research at Morgan Stanley, making some bullish comments on Dow components American Express (NYSE:AXP) and JPMorgan Chase (NYSE:JPM) in an interview with Barron’s.

Graseck highlighted JPM’s big buybacks as earnings booster and the ability of American Express to weather a recession thanks to its more affluent clientele.

In other glum news, oil prices traded lower and already-struggling shares of Exxon Mobil (NYSE:XOM) were hit wit a downward price target revision with UBS paring its forecast on the stock to $75 from $87. That new target still implies some decent upside from today’s close for the largest domestic oil company.

Bottom Line on Dow Jones Today

I don’t like sounding alarm bells, but the president’s comments directed toward China today are very hard to retract. To be fair, he’s on point when it comes to the fentanyl issue, but ordering U.S. companies to stop manufacturing in China is a gambit that will not bear fruit anytime soon.

This trade war, now reaching new, ominous heights, is likely to stoke recession speculation. The only good news there is that the Fed will likely attempt intervention via rate cuts.

Todd Shriber does not own any of the aforementioned securities.

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