Morning Movers: Are Tariffs a Game of Bluff?

The president is trying to spook Beijing with more tariff rattling this morning, threatening to impose duties on another $100 billion of Chinese imports in retaliation for their retaliation for his retaliation for their "unfair" trade practices.


Bloomberg News

And the China Ministry of Commerce says this morning it is prepared to retaliate for his retaliation… etc. etc. etc.

The Dow is looking at a 200-point drop at the open, while the S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite are both pointing toward drops of nearly 1%. But these are pretty modest moves. Hong Kong's Hang Seng and Singapore's Strait Times indexes actually rose 1% overnight, while Shanghai's SSE Composite and Tokyo's Nikkei were barely in the red.

The president's problem here is that if the markets aren't afraid of him, the Chinese won't be, and vice versa. And it's starting to look like the markets are already calling this an unconvincing game of bluff.

Farming REIT Gladstone Land said last night it expected "minimal impact" from the Chinese tariffs on agricultural exports. And so far the markets for things like soybeans and corn seem to be taking this in stride. If worse comes to the worst, the U.S. Department of Agriculture can update the old World War II posters and ask us to "Eat Soybeans for Victory." Rosie the Riveter, raising a giant Soy Chai Latte drink with her muscular arm, cannot be far behind.

It's payroll Friday and markets are scrutinizing March's non-farm hiring figures.

March's non-farm payrolls are a mixed bag. Hiring was way below expectations, at 103,000 against an anticipated 193,000. But economists say this was skewed by the weather. Probably more important, hourly earnings rose faster than expected, 0.3% compared with an anticipated 0.2%, amounting to annualized wage inflation of 2.7% - hardly compatible with a 2.8% yield on the 10-year Treasury note.

Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell will be speaking later today; he is expected to pour cold water on talk of an overheating economy.

Meanwhile, this morning's jolt of caffeine comes courtesy of Guggenheim Investments' chief investment officer Scott Minerd, who warns of a 40% chance of recession and says the stock market is on a "collision course with disaster." -Brett Arends


Getty Images (AMZN) is down 1.2% to $1,435 after the president told reporters the ecommerce giant isn't on a level playing field, which he hopes to change.

Ethan Allen Interiors (ETH) is down 1.5% to $22.85 after providing a third-quarter update. The furniture seller said it expects revenues of $181.3 million fro the quarter, below the $188.3 million consensus. It said wholesale shipments rose 7.2% while shipments at its retail division slipped 3.6%, and warned gross margins could be lower due to higher raw material costs and the wholesale/retail mix.

Greenbrier Cos. (GBX) is up 3.1% to $50.86 after reporting fiscal second-quarter earnings. The railcar maker said it earned $1.02 a share on revenue of $629.3 million, while analysts were looking for earnings of 97 cents a share on revenue of $612.5 million. For the full year, it expects to earn $5 a share on revenue of $2.4 billion to $2.6 billion. Consensus calls for earnings of $4.18 a share on revenue of $2.55 billion.

Incyte (INCY) is down 20% to $65.70 and Merck (MRK) is down 1.1% to $53.91 after their melanoma treatment failed a late-stage trial.

Urban Outfitters (URBN) is down 1.5% to $37.99 on news that its CEO will leave on April 27.

Wage Works (WAGE) is down 4.1% to $43.15. The corporate benefit administrator said it elevated Chief Operating Officer Edgar Montes to chief executive; its chief financial officer is also stepping down, and as part of its previously announced internal investigation, it will be restating certain financial results, although that's not expected to affect business operations or its revenue guidance.

WD-40 (WDFC) is down 4.8% to $126.65 after reporting second-quarter earnings. The chemicals company earned $1.05 a share, above the 95-cent consensus, while revenue came in at $101.3 million, also above the $102.49 analysts were expecting. For the full year, it expects to earn between $4.07 and $4.14 a share, above previous guidance and the $3.94 consensus. It forecast revenue of $396 million to $403 million, compared with the $401.4 million analysts were expecting.

Wynn Resorts (WYNN) is up 1.7% to $184.34 on reports from The New York Post that MGM Resorts (MGM), down 0.2% to $35.05, is considering a bid for the casino operator.

Xilinix (XLNX) is down 3.2% to $64.88 after JPMorgan downgraded it to Underweight. -Teresa Rivas

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

In This Story


Other Topics

US Markets

Latest Markets Videos


    Barron's is a leading source of financial news, providing in-depth analysis and commentary on stocks, investments and how markets are moving across the world.

    Learn More