Fool Us Thursday – China Deal Once Again Used to Boost the Markets



How many times can we possibly fall for the same thing?  Every time the market takes a dip we suddenly make trade progress with China – according to US Officials, anyway.  Of course we need something good to happen with China to offset today's depressing GDP Report, which will highlight the damage Trump's Government Shutdown has done to the US (and Global) Economy.

Still, it looks like you can certainly fool some of the people all of the time and the Futures are, as usual, coming off their lows on "news" that China is making concessions in the trade talks. Reuters reported previously that the two sides were working on written agreements in six areas: forced technology transfer and cyber theft, intellectual property rights, services, currency, agriculture and non-tariff barriers to trade. Still, progress is not a deal and we are still miles away from a deal which means Trump's Tariff Tax on the American People will continue while China runs out the clock on his Presidency.  

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It's been almost a month since the last meeting and the next meeting will be in May and then it's summertime and who knows if anything gets done over the summer yet, today, the Dow came 100 points off the low on rumors that progress is being made – it doesn't take much to get that index excited, does it?

Aside from GDP at 8:30, we get Jobless Claims and Corporate Profits followed by Pending Home Sales at 10 and the KC Fed Manufacturing Report at 11 followed by four (4) Fed speakers – Bostick at 11:30, Williams at 1:15 (on both sides of a 1pm 7-year note auction), Willimas again at 2:30 and Bullard this evening at 6:30 followed by Williams again at 9:25 tomorrow morning.  Williams is the Fed's Uber-Dove, so you can see which way the Fed is looking to steer things into the quarter's end.

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It may not feel like it but this has been a great quarter for stocks, with the Dow up about 2,500 points (11%) and the S&P up 300 points (12%) since the year began.  It's just that we've been here since mid-February, so the last 6 weeks of frustration seem like they've been going on forever.  Whether it's a frustrated attempt to break higher or healthy consolidation on the way to new highs remains to be seen as we close the speculation on Q1 and move on to the actual earnings reports – finally.  

8:30 Update:  Well, this is the 3rd revision of the Q4 GDP Report and, once again, it's been revised down – from 2.6% to 2.2% and there's one more revision left.  Q1's GDP is already forecast to be around 1.5% and this will be the first time in 2 year's we've had 2 quarters of sub-2% growth – if trends continue to follow the current path.  

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In fact, the ONLY think likely to save the GDP would be a very quick trade deal with China – so the pressure is certainly on this week for Team Trump to come up with something more than empty promises.  Worse than GDP, Real Gross Domestic Income fell from 4.6% in Q3 to just 1.7% in Q4 as the American Consumer continues to be punished by Trump's Trade War.  The deceleration in real GDP growth in the 4th quarter reflected decelerations in Private Inventory Investment, PCE, and Federal Government Spending and a downturn in State and Local Government Spending – more self-inflicted wounds resulting from Trump's Government Shutdown.  

So, on the bright side, things should get better because we did this damage to ourselves but Trump will still be President – and who knows what surprises he has for us in 2019 and 2020?  Meanwhile, we can expect at least another push back to our bounce lines and we know the Fed is on hand to give things a positive spin so, once again (sorry), it's more of a "watch and wait" kind of day as we wind up the quarter.  

Keep in mind, even though it doesn't feel like it, the indexes are off to a very strong start in 2019.