China risk has reemerged in the U.S. stock market — here’s how events may play out

There is a report that the U.S. is amending an export rule to block the sale of certain semiconductors to Huawei. This is in addition to prior restrictions on exports of U.S. technology to Huawei.

There is a swift response from China in a tweet by Hu Xijin, the influential editor of the Global Times, which has close ties to the Chinese government. He said China may declare Apple AAPL, -0.59%, Qualcomm QCOM, -5.13% and Cisco CSCO, +0.95% as unreliable entities and stop buying planes from Boeing (BA).

Earlier this week, President Trump said “right now I just don’t want to speak to [Chinese President Xi Jinping],” adding he’s “very disappointed” with China and its response to the coronavirus pandemic. Trump said he’s “looking at” Chinese companies that trade on U.S. stock exchanges but don’t follow U.S. accounting rules.

How will this play out? Let’s examine with the help of a chart.

Chart

Please click here for an annotated chart of Apple, Qualcomm, Cisco and Boeing.

Note the following:

• The Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, +0.25% dropped after the report of restrictions on semiconductor sales to Huawei. The stock market took another leg down after the tweet from Hu Xijin.

• The chart shows that after the coronavirus-related dip, Apple stock approached prior highs.

• The chart shows that Qualcomm and Cisco rallied from the lows but nowhere near their prior highs.

• The chart shows a big drop in Boeing stock. Boeing had problems prior to the coronavirus, and now Boeing’s customers have more planes than they need for the time being.

• In the previous trade war between the U.S. and China, Apple CEO Tim Cook was successful in keeping both President Trump and the Chinese government happy. The big risk is that Cook may not be able to pull off that feat again.

• A lot of money is tied to the S&P 500 Index SPX, +0.39%. Apple carries a heavy weighting in the index, so if Apple is hit more than the other three stocks named in the tweet, the stock market will suffer as a result of poor sentiment.

• Stock market investors have been hiding in five big tech stocks of Apple, Amazon AMZN, +0.87%, Facebook FB, +1.96%, Alphabet GOOG, +1.25%GOOGL, +1.19% and Microsoft MSFT, +1.45%. Amazon, Google and Facebook do not do any material business in China. If tensions rise, the impact on Microsoft may not be that great; it will be interesting if the stock market makes the differentiation and runs up these stocks even further.

What does it all mean?

Investing is about risks and rewards. Risks in the stock market today are significantly higher than generally believed. On the other hand, good news on antivirals or vaccines could cause a massive short-squeeze, potentially prompting stocks to rise to new highs.

Under these circumstances, investors should neither be bears nor bulls. Investors should follow the analytical framework of protection bands and stay nimble based on new data. To learn more about the framework and protection bands, please read “Stock market investors are asking ‘should I buy or sell?’ Here’s how to decide.”

Answers to your questions

Answers to some of your questions are in my previous writings. Please click here for details.

Disclosure: Arora Report portfolios have positions in Apple, Qualcomm, Cisco, Amazon, Alphabet, Microsoft and Facebook. Nigam Arora is the founder of The Arora Report, which publishes four newsletters. He can be reached at [email protected]

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