Has a Bear Arrived for the Holidays?
Rumor has it that U.S. First Lady Melania Trump and her son, Barron, are on their way back from Mar-a-Lago, Florida, where they’d planned to spend the holidays – until the government shutdown that began on Friday which kept President Trump glued to Washington, D.C. And with Melania’s return to Washington, trader fears have returned in full force. According to Reuters, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin will have a call later today with officials known as the “Plunge Protection Team,” (also known as the Working Group on Financial Markets) whose express goal is to prevent the U.S. stock market from falling too much more despite the recent downtrend and the turmoil that is shaking the U.S. government.
On Sunday, Mnuchin conferred with were the chief executives from Bank of America, Citi, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Wells Fargo, and JP Morgan Chase. According to Mnuchin, the bank execs confirmed that they have “ample liquidity” for lending to consumer and business markets. No confirmation has been provided by any of the banks. He added that “we continue to see strong economic growth in the U.S. economy with robust activity from consumers and business.” Still, despite Mnuchin’s outwardly optimistic claims, there’s no denying that U.S. markets are on shaky ground.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average suffered last week its worst decline in 10 years. The S&P 500 is trading extremely closely to a bear market, after falling over 12 percent in December. The Nasdaq has plunged 13.6 percent this month alone and has already hit bear market territory since falling approximately 22 percent from its August peak. Making matters worse is the U.S. government shutdown that began on Friday and threatens to stretch through at least this coming Thursday, as lawmakers are out for the holidays. The shutdown was prompted when budgets expired, and new deals weren’t able to be confirmed due to an impasse regarding President Trump’s demand for funding for his border wall with Mexico.
Asian markets were trading mixed on Monday. Japan’s Nikkei 225 was down 1.11 percent as of 3:19 p.m. HK/SIN while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index was down 0.40 percent. South Korea’s Kospi was also down 0.31 percent. Chinese benchmark indexes, the Shanghai Composite and the Shenzhen Composite were both higher, up 0.43 percent and 0.67 percent respectively.