S&P 500 Index back in the red
For the week ending March 2, 2018, the S&P 500 Index closed at 2,691.25. The index depreciating 2.0% after President Trump previewed possible tariffs on steel and aluminum imports. The decision to introduce tariffs unnerved the markets. Tariffs could derail global economic growth. Fed Chair Jerome Powell’s testimony to Congress increased the odds for an increased rate hike pace, which contributed to higher volatility last week.
All of the sectors within the S&P 500 Index registered losses last week. The S&P 500 materials and industrials (XLI) lost close to 4% because they might have to incur higher costs to procure steel (SLX) and aluminum. The telecom and IT (XLK) sectors were impacted the least by the news about tariffs last week.
Speculators’ positions on the S&P 500 Index
The S&P 500 Index’s large speculators increased the number of net bullish positions for the first time in five weeks. The net long contracts increased from 12,408 to 13,351 contracts. The data were reported by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission in the weekly Commitment of Traders report. The data were only up to February 27 and before the announcement about US tariffs on steel and aluminum imports. ETFs that track the S&P 500 Index like the SPDR S&P 500 (SPY) and the iShares S&P 500 (IVV) declined in the previous week and could witness outflows if volatility escalates this week.
S&P 500 Index’s outlook
Investors will likely remain focused on the markets’ reaction to the new tariffs on steel and aluminum and risk aversion in the global markets. Asian markets fell in the early trading session on March 5. US futures and European markets weren’t showing any major signs of panic. We have a few important economic reports that will be released this week, especially the February jobs report on Friday. Overall, there could be some repercussions from the tariff-related news, which could lead to higher levels of volatility.