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The (Potential) Outcomes of Trade Wars and Interest Rates

The stock market has been driven by two main dynamics in recent weeks: the trade war with China and expectations for Federal Reserve interest rate policy. Global stocks sank 6% in May after the re-escalation of trade tensions. Those losses have been mostly recouped as investors now expect the Federal Reserve to lower interest rates to counteract the effect of the trade war on the economy. 

The near-term outlook for the markets is captured in the adjacent diagram. Progress on the trade war combined with Fed rate cuts could be a powerful combination for the markets, likely leading to improved performance among economically sensitive stocks in the U.S. as well as emerging market equities. On the flip side, continued trade tensions combined with a “hawkish” Fed could cause most investments to decline, similar to the fourth quarter of 2018.

The actual outcome may be somewhere in the middle, with markets benefiting from either trade relief or lower Fed interest rates, as the White House and Fed compensate for each other’s actions.  Markets ought to be able to perform reasonably well in this scenario; indeed stocks have posted modest gains this quarter despite this mixed policy bag.

DISCLAIMER: Past performance does not predict future results. This report is based on data obtained from sources we believe to be reliable. Hefren-Tillotson does not, nor any other party, guarantee the accuracy or completeness of this report or make any warranties regarding results obtained from its usage. All opinions and estimates included in this report constitute the firms judgment as of the date of this report and are subject to change without notice. This report is for informational purposes only and is not intended as an offer or solicitation to buy or sell the securities herein mentioned.

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Hefren-Tillotson Inc. is a leading diversified financial services firm providing investment and retirement plan management and comprehensive, financial planning through MASTERPLAN® for individuals and businesses. The firm’s wealth management services are administered by Certified Financial Planner (CFP) professionals, Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) Charter holders, attorneys, Chartered Life Underwriters, and CPA/PFS’s. Hefren-Tillotson offers corporate services including 401(k) retirement planning, executive financial counseling, fiduciary reviews and workplace financial planning seminars. Founded in 1948, the firm is headquartered in Pittsburgh and has offices located in Pittsburgh, Butler, Greensburg, North Hills, and South Hills. MEMBER SIPC.