Stocks–especially chip stocks–have rallied strongly today on headlines saying that the Department of Commerce has granted a 90-day license for U.S. companies to do business with China’s Huawei Technologies in order to service existing networks. This is especially good news for telecommunications companies in smaller U.S. markets who have built their systems on less expensive gear from Huawei.
The odds are that this “positive” headline will be followed in coming days with “negative” headlines as the Trump administration moves forward with plans to put higher tariffs on another $320 billion in Chinese exports to the United States and as China follows up on bellicose rhetoric with retaliation targeted at higher tariffs on $65 billion in U.S. exports to China and at non-tariff restrictions on U.S. companies such as Apple (AAPLWealth Strength IndexAAPL is Moderately Flat and trending Up) and their China-based supply chains. Shares of Apple are up 2.63% as of 2 p.m. New York time today. Yesterday, May 20, they fell 3.1%. (As of yesterday’s close Apple shares were down 12% in the last month.)
That’s a pattern you’ll find throughout the tech sector today. Qualcomm (QCOMWealth Strength IndexQCOM is Moderately Flat and trending Up) is up 1.89% after closing down 5.99% yesterday. Xilinx (XLNXWealth Strength IndexXLNX is Moderately Flat and trending Up) was lower by 3.56% yesterday but is up 4.4% today.
Among the market indexes, the Standard & Poor’s 500 was higher by 0.99% as of 2 p.m. New York time and the Dow Jones Industrial Average was ahead 0.74%. The technology heavy NASDAQ Composite is up 1.32% today and the small cap Russell 2000 has gained 1.33%. The Technology Select Sector SPDR ETF (XLK) has gained 1.50% as of 2 p.m. New York time. The Philadelphia Semiconductor Index, down 4% on Monday, is up 1.9% today.
If you think the volatility from the U.S.-China trade war is over now, I’d suggest you consider this comment from Zhang Ming, China’s envoy to the European Union, in a Monday interview in Brussels. “This is wrong behavior, so there will be a necessary response,” he said. “Chinese companies’ legitimate rights and interests are being undermined, so the Chinese government will not sit idly by.”
More to come, I’d say. The odds, as I calculate them, say that the next move is down again.