The America First Trade Is Unwinding
(Bloomberg) -- The America First trade that has divided financial markets this year continues to unwind, with the latest evidence showing in U.S. stocks.
Thanks to President Donald Trump’s trade deal with Canada and Mexico, global growth bellwethers such as Boeing Co. led a 0.8 percent advance in the Dow Jones Industrial Average Monday, while the domestically focused Russell 2000 Index sank by about the same amount.
The performance highlighted a potential reversal in one of 2018’s most profitable strategies, namely buy America versus the rest of the world. Fueled by trade anxiety and a slowdown in the global economy outside of the U.S., the Dow’s year-to-date performance trailed the Russell 2000 by about 12 percentage points at the height of their divergence. Since then, the gap has narrowed to less than 4 points.
The Dow’s latest rebound mirrored a trend that’s been in play in emerging markets over the past three weeks. Casualties of Trump’s plan to reorder global commerce, Chinese stocks have led developing countries into a bear market, in stark contrast with a record-setting rally in U.S. equities. Yet since this year’s low in September, the MSCI Emerging Markets Index has climbed about 4 percent, compared with a 1 percent gain in the S&P 500.
While it may still be early to claim an end to the America First trade, it’s a rare big win for the Dow as such a favorable divergence occurred only one other time this year, on July 24. Back then, multinational firms got a lift as China boosted injections to banks to a record and unveiled a stimulus package.
©2018 Bloomberg L.P.