After months of largely ignoring significant signs of trouble, Wall Street can’t stop reacting to the U.S.-China trade war, interest rate hikes, and other indicators of an impending economic slowdown — and the tumult is unlikely to end soon.
Last week, elements of all of those combined to drive the S&P 500-stock index down by 4.6 percent, its worst weekly drop since March and one marked by stomach-churning price swings. Stocks are now down 1.5 percent this year.
More volatility could be in store, as investors assess the allegations by prosecutors that President Trump directed illegal payments to ward off a potential sex scandal, and the possibility that he sought to secretly do business in Russia during his 2016 campaign for the White House.
“The fact is that politics is driving the economy to an extent that is very atypical,” said Julian Emanuel, chief equity and derivatives strategist at BTIG, an institutional brokerage firm. “We would say probably to the greatest extent that we’ve seen in our investing lifetime.”
As corporate America signals caution in response, lenders cutting back on financing and large businesses slowing their growth plans could also drag down the economy, the Times noted.
“We’re very mindful once again where we’re at in the cycle,” Gregory Carmichael, chief executive of the Cincinnati-based lender Fifth Third, said at a conference last week. “We’re well positioned to deal with the downturn in the economy, and we’ll be very cautious.”