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The US-China trade war is worrying investors more than what the Fed is doing



The ongoing trade spat between the U.S. and China is the biggest threat to the market right now, not the Federal Reserve’s monetary policy, strategist Art Hogan said Wednesday night.

“I’m much more concerned about China and what that means in the long run than I am about what Fed Chairman Jay Powell’s doing with monetary policy,” Hogan, the chief market strategist at B. Riley FBR, told CNBC.

“The market is trying to get their minds wrapped around what kind of guidance we’re going to get from companies like 3M, where they can’t figure out what their input costs are going to be for 2019,” he said. “Does this long, drawn out, mutually destructive trade war continue through all of 2019? Or is there a way to get to the negotiating table?”

Hogan’s comments come after a steep sell-off on Wall Street. The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 608.01 points on Wednesday, while the S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite plunged 3.1 percent and 4.4 percent, respectively.

China and the U.S. have slapped tariffs on billions of dollars worth of each other’s goods. These protectionist stances on trade have kept investors on edge for most of the year as they fear tighter trade conditions could slow down the global economy.

Tariffs have been a key subject discussed by companies this earnings season. More than a third of the S&P 500 companies that have reported through Tuesday’s close discussed tariffs in their conference calls.

Equities are down sharply this month amid worries over corporate earnings and fears of rising rates, among other factors.

The Fed has already raised rates three times this year and is expected to hike once more before year-end. “I think they’ll make the right decisions going forward and if things start to slip, … they’re going to pull back,” Hogan said.

The Dow and S&P 500 are down 7.1 percent and 8.9 percent in October, respectively. The Nasdaq, meanwhile, has lost more than 11.5 percent this month.

But Brian Belski, chief investment strategist at BMO Capital Markets, thinks this move lower is driven more by technical factors than deteriorating fundamentals.

“If you take a look at the top 10 biggest companies in the S&P 500 that have beat earnings, you have stalwarts like Oracle, Microsoft, UnitedHealth, these are American institutions,” he said, adding the best place to be invested in right now is still stocks.



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