Here Are the S&P 500 Bull Cases Helped by a Trade Agreement
(Bloomberg) -- Putting an end to the U.S.-China trade war is central to some of the bigger bull cases for stocks in America and abroad. With equity futures perking up on news a deal is close on tariffs, the following is a sampling of what strategists have said the impact might be.
March contracts on the S&P 500 and Dow Jones 100 rose 0.3 percent as of 10:33 a.m. in London, while Nasdaq contracts were up 0.4 percent. Negotiators are nearing an agreement that could lift most or all U.S. tariffs as long as Beijing follows through on pledges ranging from better protecting intellectual-property rights to buying American products, two people familiar with the discussions said earlier.
European stocks started the week on a positive note, too, as miners and media companies led the advance amid trade optimism. Investors are also looking forward to the monetary policy meeting of the European Central Bank on Thursday.
The S&P 500 could climb to about 3,020 should a “real deal” between the U.S. and China get struck, Bank of America strategists said in a note in February. That would exceed the September all-time high of 2,930. The reversal of 2018 tariffs would add 1 percent upside to companies’ per-share earnings growth, the strategists said.
About 250 points of upside could be realized in the S&P 500 if trade concerns thaw, Keith Parker, head of U.S. equity strategy at UBS, said in December when the benchmark was priced near 2,670. That would send the S&P 500 up toward 2,920 -- a 4 percent gain from Friday’s close. Last week, he said the major average could reach new highs by the end of June, heading toward his year-end target of 2,950.
JPMorgan Chase & Co. strategists led by Marko Kolanovic estimated in June that market reactions to trade headlines had yanked $1.25 trillion in value from U.S. stocks. In September, Kolanovic warned that per-share earnings for S&P 500 companies could drop by as much as $10 if bilateral tariffs of 25 percent were imposed.
What Wall Street Is Saying Now
Here are more recent comments from market strategists and investors:
Kristina Hooper, the chief global market strategist at Invesco Ltd.:
“Recent reports suggest that the U.S. and China are very close to a trade deal. That should be a real positive for stocks globally, especially Chinese stocks; it wouldn’t be surprising to see stocks rise more than 2 percent on the news,” Hooper said Sunday. “However, I would caution that stocks can go down as easily as they rose if the talks don’t truly culminate in an agreement -- and I believe that is still a very real possibility. Recall that just last week Robert Lighthizer poured cold water on the president’s suggestion that a trade deal was close to fruition, cautioning Congress that significant hurdles remain as Lighthizer wants to see real structural reforms,” she said. “I don’t expect China to agree to significant concessions such as intellectual property protections – and I believe that even more now that we are starting to see some improvement in Chinese economic data, as manufacturing PMI for February improved. If we get an actual deal, I would expect stocks globally to rise significantly.”
Jim Paulsen, chief investment strategist at Leuthold Weeden Capital Management in Minneapolis, said Sunday:
“They are just talking about eliminating tariffs the U.S. put on in the last year. That is not that unexpected and it would be good a deal was reached but I am not sure this deal is much more than was already expected and overall far from blockbuster news. That is, good for market on headline because war is over but probably not much ongoing positive for stocks.”
Paul Nolte, a portfolio manager at Kingsview Asset Management, said Sunday:
“This quote has been making the rounds for the past few weeks. We have seen each time the news of getting close hits the tape, stocks have reacted positively. Depending upon how close is close, stocks should jump at the open. It will do wonders for China, which could reignite global growth, likely held back by trade and tariffs.”
Tom Essaye, a former Merrill Lynch trader who founded “The Sevens Report” newsletter:
A trade deal addressing all three trade issues -- reduction of the trade deficit, expanded market access, and elimination of intellectual property theft -- would trigger a rally of as much as 5 percent, he wrote to clients last week. A deal that addresses all issues but only partly removes tariffs would trigger a short-term bounce that shouldn’t be chased. And a pact that addresses the trade issues but doesn’t include tariff removal would cause a decline.
(Updates with European stocks in third paragraph.)