They may have to start passing out neck braces on trading floors if the White House's contradictions on trade policies continue much longer.
Investors are getting whiplash from watching the back-and-forth happening among Trump administration officials who can't seem to agree on a trade policy. Monday's action featured a series of mixed messages about President Donald Trump's latest trade-related threat, resulting in volatile market action and confusion and frustration in the financial markets.
"I don't think the people in the White House have an ideal path for the way this is going to go. They're trying lots of different things," said Rob Lutts, chief investment officer and president of Cabot Money Management. "I actually believe they're making this up as they go along."
Monday's end result was a 328-point drop for the Dow industrials, which had lost nearly 500 points earlier in the session but recovered somewhat on remarks from Peter Navarro, one of Trump's chief economic advisors, who tried to tamp down market fear during a CNBC appearance.
The Navarro interview came during a tumultuous day that started with news reports sayng that the administration would block companies with 25 percent or more Chinese ownership from buying certain U.S. tech-related companies. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin followed up with a tweet indicating that the measure would apply to all countries, before Navarro made his comments.
But that wasn't the end of it: White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders then said during her daily briefing that the administration was preparing a list to be released soon targeting "all countries that are trying to steal our technology."
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When Tuesday came along, investors watched Trump jump into yet another feud, this time with Harley-Davidson after the iconic motorcycle manufacturer said in a regulatory filing that it was moving some production overseas to mitigate the costs of European Union retaliatory tariffs against U.S. products.