New York – Trade-rattled U.S. equities led world markets lower as $1 trillion was wiped out by the suddenly harsher tone between the U.S. and China. The Nasdaq plunged 3.4%, while more than 470 stocks retreated on the S&P 500. “China retaliating as fast as they did was a clear signal they’re not going to be pushed around,” JPMorgan said.
Apple suffered a 5.8% bruising as investors focused on suppliers and production lines closely linked to China, where the iPhone maker derived almost 20% of its 2018 revenue. The Supreme Court didn’t help, issuing a 5-4 ruling allowing consumers to file a suit against unfair prices at its App Store.
The selloff has strategists scrambling for a new playbook. Trading volume—which has averaged about $352 billion this month—is much lower than last year’s final quarter, which could help lead to an even bigger rout. A recent refrain on the Street was that light positioning in equities could hold off a stampede, but many now see that as a headwind.
The Fed remains mostly optimistic. Vice Chairman Richard Clarida reiterated that the economy is close to the central bank’s twin objectives. Eric Rosengren warned that extended levies will hurt but downplayed the immediate impact. Neel Kashkari said a strong labor market negates the need for a rate cut. Traders see another story.
Bitcoin fans were even more sanguine. The cryptocurrency briefly passed $7,000, the highest price since September. Other digital coins rose with it, with Ethereum adding 9% over the weekend and the Bloomberg Galaxy Crypto Index up 8%.