Four of the five top performing sectors are oil related, with the S&P’s oil and gas drilling subsector in the lead with a gain of 3.34%. Semiconductor equipment, which should have been the biggest gainer from an amelioration of the Administration’s hard line on china, was down 2.3%, and semiconductors were down 1.32%.
Big US exporters lost most of their earlier gains; Caterpillar had risen as high as 139.5 on the apparent softening of the Administration’s China stance, but was trading at 135.5 at 1:30. Boeing peaked at 341.4, but fell to 332.8 at 1:30.
The major equity market indices were nearly unchanged; without the boost from oil, both would have fallen. On the Dow Jones, McDonald’s was the worst performer, with a loss of 1.7%. That’s not surprising, because consumer stocks tend to move inversely with oil (there’s a direct trade off between the price of a tank of gas and the impulse purchase of a Happy Meal).
All in all, President Trump’s Groucho Marx routine (“These are my principles, and if you don’t like them, I’ve got others”) failed to impress the market. The Administration’s tough line against Iran is responsible for the jump in the oil price to the highest level since late November 2014, and it’s already eating into expected earnings of consumer stocks. Asia Unhedged is still not a buyer of US equities.