‘We're Supposed to Be Looking at Earnings’: Trump Tweet Reaction

(Bloomberg) -- Donald Trump’s big gift to Wall Street, earnings growth surpassing 20 percent, is in danger of being drowned out by the escalating trade and currency wars, stock fund managers warned. His belligerence toward the Federal Reserve could end up influencing policy, they said.

The S&P 500 Index is sitting close to unchanged in a week when every industrial company that reported results beat analyst estimates for quarterly profit. Equity futures were little changed Friday morning after the president lashed out at China and Europe for their weak currencies and said a stronger dollar and rising interest rates are undermining American competitiveness.

Here’s a sampling of investor reactions:

Kim Forrest, senior portfolio manager at Fort Pitt Capital Group LLC in Pittsburgh:

“You never know what’s going to happen. This is supposed to be the sleepy time. We’re supposed to be looking at earnings, which are killing it, by the way. We’re in a world of firsts, and tweeting about the Fed not once but twice doubles down that the president is trying to exert pressure. And I think the fact that we have this vision that they are outside of being influenced, that it shouldn’t be happening or they are above being influenced, coolly and calmly just look at the numbers and decide what to do from them, has always been an irrational thought. But these tweets are bringing that to the forefront.”

Dennis Debusschere, head of portfolio strategy at Evercore ISI:

“Trump’s focus on the Fed is just getting started. The major question for investors is if the Fed will succumb to the pressure (not directly, but just pausing for a number of reasons), or maintain or even increase the pace of rate hikes. A faster pace of rate hikes may be needed to reinforce the Fed’s independence. The latter option seems like a dangerous route to take as it could lead to a destabilizing decrease in asset prices. An earlier pause seems more likely, which is what Eurodollar futures are signaling and is a headwind for the USD.”

Mark Heppenstall, chief investment officer, Penn Mutual Asset Management:

“Trump in some ways will be challenging them in a way where they will need to state their independence by tightening in the September meeting to prove a point. I think the Fed was going to tighten at the September meeting, I think he will tighten at the September meeting barring a dramatic change in the economic numbers coming out between now and then. The odds are the Fed is going to move in September. They have a history of fulfilling market expectations whenever there is a tightening priced in they’ve fulfilled it, when there’s not a tightening priced in they’ve stayed back.”

Chad Morganlander, portfolio manager, Washington Crossing Advisors:

“Trump’s comments will have zero impact on Powell’s appetite to move forward. The Fed is known for being relative to the executive branch criticism, and the markets are well aware of that. The markets’ reaction is the realization that the Fed will continue to reduce the balance sheet no matter what.”

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