No fear: Brexit, Trump, Italy fail to rattle market
NEW YORK– Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi is stepping down after losing a referendum Sunday — and investors don’t seem to care.
The Dow hit a new all-time high Monday. And CNNMoney’s Fear & Greed Index, which measures seven indicators of market sentiment, is now pointing to Extreme Greed. Even the iShares MSCI Italy ETF, which owns major Italian companies, was up.
Welcome to the brave new world where investors pretty much assume that the anti-establishment vote will prevail: Britain leaving the EU. Donald Trump. And now Italy.
Forget about more Brexit surprises At this point, a country voting to preserve the status quo would qualify as a shocking political upset that might unsettle the market.
But are investors blindly buying stocks and blissfully ignoring (or even worse, forgetting?) all the things that used to scare them?
Michael Block, chief strategist at Rhino Trading Partners, joked in a report Monday morning that the market now seems to be cheering for more political upheaval.
“The lesson investors and traders are getting is that everything is a buying opportunity and you need to not miss the boat,” he wrote.
“Heck, all we need is a coup d’etat in India and the entire Belgian banking system to go kablooey and the S&P 500 will be at 3,000 by Christmas Eve,” he added. (The index would have to go up another 800 points, or 37%, in the next 3 weeks to hit 3K.)
It is a bit surprising that investors have shrugged off nearly all the major political shockwaves.
Consider this. Trump tweeted on Friday about speaking on the phone with the president of Taiwan calling him — a major diplomatic no-no — and stocks still moved higher Monday.
Trump stepped up his criticism of big U.S. multinational businesses as well over the weekend, threatening to slap tariffs of 35% on companies that move more jobs overseas. That would be disastrous for profits. And stocks continued to rise.
And global investors simply shrugged off the Italy news, despite worries that a “No” vote would lead to more problems for struggling Italian banks an increased instability in Europe.
“The markets reversed themselves after Brexit in a little over a week, overnight with Trump’s election and now have barely batted an eye with the Italian vote,” wrote Tom Siomades, head of Hartford Funds Investment Consulting Group Monday.
“There is a ‘can do’ sense sweeping the market right now and pretty much anything that is potentially negative is getting shoved to the side,” he added.
But how long can this last? Block is worried that investors are too complacent, saying that he is “not all-in on the Trump miracle.”
He’s not alone.
“It would be naïve to think geopolitical risk has passed post-Brexit and the U.S. election. We believe it’s just getting more interesting,” wrote David Lafferty, chief market strategist with Natixis Global Asset Management in a report Monday morning.
“While markets have reacted favorably towards Trump’s growth agenda in the U.S., this weekend’s dust-up with Taiwan/China certainly won’t be the last,” he added. “His inexperience and bombastic style should provide plenty of thrills and spills.”
In other words, the populist tidal wave sweeping across the United States and Europe could usher in the beginning of a new era of volatility and market turmoil as opposed to the end of it.
By Paul R. La Monica