Dhaka, Bangladesh
Wall Street braces for tariff fallout

Wall Street braces for tariff fallout

Business Desk SAN FRANCISCO, July 21: Tariffs are starting to bite big manufacturers and Wall Street could get another bout of caution and uncertainty from major industrial companies when a swath of reports comes in over the next week. Investors are worried about the impact on earnings should the United States’ trade war with China and other major trading partners escalate. Deutsche Bank in June estimated that an escalation of the dispute to include $200 billion of imports would hit earnings growth by 1-1.5 percent. “If today’s political rhetoric intensifies and translates into actual protectionist policies, it will be a negative for all businesses in the U.S. and abroad, including ours,” Hamid Moghadam, chief executive of supply chain management company Prologis, warned on a conference call on Tuesday. Manufacturers across the country are concerned about Washington’s recent trade policies, with some saying that uncertainty related to tariffs was already hitting them, according to anecdotes collected by the U.S. Federal Reserve in its Beige Book, released on Wednesday. That is starting to show up in early reports by companies. Earnings from Honeywell International, General Electric and Stanley Black & Decker show companies facing higher costs due to already enacted tariffs, and uncertainty about tariffs on as much as $500 billion in Chinese goods threatened by Trump. GE said it expects tariffs on its imports from China to raise its costs by up to $400 million and Alcoa (AA.N) said the tariffs led to an extra $15 million in costs. [ Second-quarter corporate earnings seasons kicks into gear starting on Monday, with results on tap from companies including Corning, Ford Motor, 3M Co and Boeing, which has fallen nearly 2 percent since the start of March. The United States in March said it would impose tariffs on steel and aluminum, and on July 1, Washington and Beijing applied tariffs on $34 billion worth of each other’s goods. Trump has threatened additional tariffs, possibly targeting more than $500 billion worth of Chinese goods - roughly the total amount of U.S. imports from China last year. Since March 1, S&P 500 industrials have fallen nearly 3 percent, reflecting the sector’s dependence on international commerce. The S&P 1500 steel index has lost 1 percent since March 1, as investors worry that a slowdown in global demand could offset U.S. steelmakers’ benefits from tariffs against their foreign competitors. Many of the roughly 180 S&P 500 companies reporting their results next week are not directly exposed to China, but they may still have reasons for concern. “There are companies that might not be significantly impacted by tariffs from a cost perspective, but from the uncertainty around it,” said Kurt Brunner, a portfolio manager at Swarthmore Group in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. “They could see customers holding off on spending because they don’t know what is going to happen.” Harley-Davidson, which said last month it would move some of its motorcycle production abroad as a result of the European Union’s retaliatory tariffs, reports its results on Tuesday. Qualcomm, reporting on July 25, depends on China for two thirds of its revenue. The U.S. chipmaker is also facing a drawn-out wait for Chinese regulators to approve its $44 billion takeover of NXP Semiconductors, a delay widely seen as connected to the trade conflict. A strong U.S. economy and deep corporate tax cuts have fueled a 5 percent increase in the S&P 500 this year, even as Wall Street worries about the tariffs’ impact. Super-charged by deep corporate tax cuts, S&P 500 earnings are expected by analysts to grow 22 percent in the June quarter and 23.1 percent in the September quarter, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S. Estimates for the September quarter are likely to change as companies provide their outlooks over the next few weeks. “The market is looking through Trump’s trade negotiations and governing style because of this strength. However, we are more cautious on the trade overhang and think headline risk, both to the upside and downside, will remain high,” EventShare Chief Investment Officer Ben Phillips wrote in report on Thursday. On Friday, Wall Street stocks finished slightly lower as President Donald Trump’s latest tariff threats and attack on the Federal Reserve kept a lid on gains despite largely solid earnings. The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished down less than 0.1 percent at 25,058.06. The broad-based S&P 500 dropped 0.1 percent to close the week at 2,801.83, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index also fell 0.1 percent to 7,820.20. With the majority of larger earnings reports still to come, companies are on track to report second-quarter earnings about 20 percent above those of the year-ago period, according to a note from Credit Suisse. “Overall, the earnings season has been strong, topline revenue growth has been solid as well,” said Quincy Krosby, chief market strategist at Prudential Financial. But Trump kept some of the focus on trade fights after telling CNBC in an interview that he was willing to significantly expand the conflict with China by adding tariffs to all US imports. On Twitter, Trump also accused China and the European Union of manipulating their currencies to promote their exports at the expense of the US, and criticized the Fed for raising interest rates. Among companies reporting results, Microsoft won 1.8 percent after reporting a 10 percent rise in quarterly profit to $8.8 billion behind strong revenue gains in internet search ads, gaming, Windows and other key businesses. Honeywell International advanced 3.8 percent as the industrial company raised its forecast for annual profits and sales amid strong demand from aerospace and defense clients. But General Electric sank 4.5 percent after it reported a 29.7 percent drop in second-quarter earnings to $615 million on continued power industry weakness. In Asia, Tokyo stocks closed lower on Friday on a higher yen, with investors cautious ahead of the beginning of Japan’s corporate earnings season and worries lingering over trade frictions. The benchmark Nikkei 225 index lost 0.29 percent, or 66.80 points, to close at 22,697.88. Over the week, however, the index edged up 0.44 percent. The broader Topix index was down 0.26 percent, or 4.61 points, at 1,744.98. Over the week, it advanced 0,86 percent. “The yen is edging higher while the Chinese yuan dropped,” with both factors weighing on Japanese shares, Hiroaki Hiwata, strategist at Toyo Securities, told AFP. “Ahead of corporate earnings season starting next week, investors are evaluating the impact” of various factors, including currency rates, on profits, Hiwata added. The Chinese currency continued its sharp decline on Friday despite US President Donald Trump’s bid to rein in the dollar. In excerpts of an interview with US television network CNBC aired Thursday, Trump said a strong dollar “puts us at a disadvantage”, adding that the Chinese yuan “has been dropping like a rock”. Those and other Trump comments criticising Federal Reserve interest rate hikes caused the dollar to fall back in the US on Thursday. But the yuan declined further Friday as the People’s Bank of China (PBOC), which sets the yuan’s daily trading band, weakened the rate by the widest amount in two years. A cheaper yuan helps Chinese-made goods become cheaper and more competitive in foreign markets, potentially expanding the US trade deficit with China. In Tokyo, semiconductor-related shares dropped, with Advantest closing down 3.16 percent at 2,444 yen and Tokyo Electron ending down 2.97 percent at 18,755 yen. China-linked shares also suffered, with construction machinery maker Komatsu falling 2.06 percent to 3,179 yen and industrial robot maker Fanuc slipping 0.95 percent to 21,155 yen. (Inputs taken from AFP, Reuters)

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