Trade talks have gone back and forth this year. It has seemed that whenever there are signs that trade talks are going in one direction - good or bad - they soon reverse course, and the U.S. stock market follows.
Sure, that's mostly been the case with China trade relations. Just a few weeks ago it looked as if China and the U.S. would come to the negotiating table, but those talks were cancelled. Then Donald Trump put on 10% of tariffs on more Chinese goods. About a week later, he put tariffs on certain retail goods, impacting stocks like Walmart (WMT - Get Report) , Target (TGT - Get Report) , and Kohl's (KSS - Get Report) . We haven't yet seen if President Trump will be as inconsistent on trade with Mexico and Canada, as he is with China. With his temperament, he could go back and forth, which could send markets back and forth as well.
U.S. stock futures are rising Monday, indicating more gains for the Dow Jones Industrial Average. But investors shouldn't flinch much. While there's an agreement in place between the U.S., Mexico and Canada on a revised NAFTA deal, we don't know what the specific terms are and we don't know what will change as the agreement gets submitted to Congress for review. And, of course, if something changes, Trump's position could change just as quickly.
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Before investors pour more money into the market on signs of positive trade relations, it would be wise to wait and see what the actual terms of the deal are. What will this mean for U.S. tariffs on Canadian lumber? The tariffs on lumber have put pressure on housing construction costs, which have been passed down to the American homebuyer. Lumber tariffs have added about $9,000 to the average price of a single family house in the U.S., according to the National Association of Home Builders. If lumber tariffs are taken out of the equation, construction costs would come down, and it would then be wise to look out for some construction stocks like Toll Brothers Inc. (TOL - Get Report) or KBR Inc., (KBR - Get Report) , a construction company.
The key for the issue of trade relations: the U.S. midterm elections. As sources have let me know of late, there could be some volatility heading into the elections, as investors watch which candidates and which of the two major parties look poised for victory. The direction of trade relations between the U.S. and its major trading partners will hinge largely on which way political power shiftsfter the mid-term elections, so it might be wise for investors to sit on the sidelines for a short period before making decisions in their stock portfolios.