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Invest in stocks? Say, did you hear the latest US-China trade rumors?

Written By | Apr 3, 2019

WASHINGTON.  An hour before the closing bell, Wednesday’s stock market averages seem to be playing a game of “just how boring can we get?” Both Tuesday and again today, stocks would sort of like to close up, but, oh well. After spending much of the day up, both the Dow and the S&P 500 have just dipped below the flatline, down 0.01 percent as we type away here. The contrary, tech-laden NASDAQ, however, is up roughly 0.5 percent. What’s the deal? US-China trade rumors. Again.

It’s getting downright boring.

If you look at the Tuesday edition of our favorite market barometer below, the unweighted McClellan Oscillator, which measures overbought or oversold conditions, it’s easy to see, at the right of the chart (i.e., the last couple of days), Mr. Market is in a very indecisive mood, even though he’d like to get bullish again.

It’s McClellan Oscillator time
US-China trade rumors

$NYMOT, McClellan Oscillator for April 2, 2019, courtesy

But apparently, the reason he can’t wake up and party again, according to an increasing number of financial pundits, prognosticators and talking heads, is that everyone has become fixated on US-China trade rumors. As in, when the hell are we going to get an agreement so we can start dropping tariffs and make real money again.

Wednesday morning’s US-China trade rumors

This morning, allegedly, some wise guy in the London Financial Times (FT) opined that we were about to get some good news out of current trade talks between the two countries. (No link, FT lives behind a paywall.) So, yawn! How many times have we heard that one? At any rate, that seems to have been good enough to kick Mr. Market into at least a modestly exciting morning rally, good for about 50 Dow points or so.

But that little rally fizzled out pretty quickly, and the Dow has spent the rest of the day piddling around the zero line on the daily chart. The S&P more or less followed suit. Only the techs have remained in irrational exuberance mode. But then again, you never know what those wild and crazy tech geeks are going to surprise us with next.

It seems that absent any other news to drive the markets, the only game in town is the rumor mill. And the current king of the mill happens to be the latest incoming US-China trade rumors.

The latest BOMBSHELL!! is probably waiting for Godot

Unfortunately, determining the veracity of any given rumor on that front is like the latest BOMBSHELL!! Russia collusion rumor on the Internet whose breathless predictions never came to pass.

We recently learned (big surprise) that the rabidly partisan, pro-Democrat, pro-Hillary, pro-Deep State Mueller prosecution team found zero, zip, nada “indictable” crimes committed by candidate, president-elect or President Trump. That ultimately non-event killed off the “Trump is Guilty” rumor mill, which had been driving the market up and down for the better part of two years.

Suddenly, minus last year’s big GOP Tax Cut rally effect, and plus the Fed’s yearlong interest rate bungling campaign, there weren’t any big, market-moving BOMBSHELL!! stories to fuel market rallies, market crashes, or Rachel Maddow’s hallucinatory fever dreams on MSLSD.

Maybe that’s part of why US stock markets are now so hung up on those US-China trade rumors. With the anticlimactic Mueller report BOMBSHELL!! out of the way – at least until House Democrats can contrive a brand new and exciting BOMBSHELL!! narrative. So there’s not much else to move the needle in either politics or the market at the moment.

Unless you count the World War Z hordes surging toward Mexico’s border with the US, encouraged by asinine US immigration non-policies and Soros money. But I digress.

US-China trade rumors are this week’s stock market default

So US-China trade rumors it is this week. And, the Financial Times aside, the rumor mill has been notably short of substantial tidbits lately.

Yeah. That’s it. That’s why we’re getting seriously boring days like Tuesday and today. It seems irrelevant as to whether Mr. Market decides to close somewhat up or somewhat down Wednesday. Any impressive moves more than likely will either reverse or fizzle out by the 4 p.m. closing bell.

It’s too bad that at least on occasion, we’re stuck writing a column like today’s that’s full of sound and fury signifying either nothing or not too much. Current earnings season quarterly reports are pretty much done. There are no current Trump BOMBSHELLS!! on tap, at least until Representatives Schiff for Brains and Formerly Fat Jerry Nadler invent a few and pass them on to Rachel Maddow. Everything is suddenly boring on Wall Street now. Except for the latest US-China trade rumors. Which, like those Russia collusion rumors and BOMBSHELLS!!, always seem to find a way of never coming to pass.

I’m going to take my afternoon nap now. If Mr. Market wakes up at some point, maybe I’ll be back with a more meaningful column tomorrow.



Duly noted Tuesday via CNBC, there’s been another “drop-add” in the Dow for those who follow such things.

Dow Inc. — Dow will begin trading today on the New York Stock Exchange, following its separation from DowDupont. The materials sciences company’s stock will also replace DowDupont in the Dow Jones Industrial Average as of today. A third company, Corteva Agriscience, will be separated from DowDupont on June 1, at which time DowDupont will change its name to DuPont. Deutsche Bank has rated Dow a “buy” in new coverage, calling it a more focused and shareholder friendly company than the old Dow Chemical.”

— Headline image: Live action shot of a terminally bored Wall Street investor this afternoon.
(Actually, an image via entry for “sleep” in Wikipedia, CC 2.0 license)


Terry Ponick

Biographical Note: Dateline Award-winning music and theater critic for The Connection Newspapers and the Reston-Fairfax Times, Terry was the music critic for the Washington Times print edition (1994-2010) and online Communities (2010-2014). Since 2014, he has been the Senior Business and Entertainment Editor for Communities Digital News (CDN). A former stockbroker and a writer and editor with many interests, he served as editor under contract from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and continues to write on science and business topics. He is a graduate of Georgetown University (BA, MA) and the University of South Carolina where he was awarded a Ph.D. in English and American Literature and co-founded one of the earliest Writing Labs in the country. Twitter: @terryp17