China could target US tech stocks in trade war, Goldman Sachs warns

Key Points
  • The U.S. has said it will impose 10 percent tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese exports.
  • China has said it has no option but to respond with fresh measures of its own.
  • Goldman Sachs has said Beijing may target the supply chain of U.S. based tech firms.
China could target US tech in trade war, Goldman Sachs warns

China could target U.S. tech stocks as part of the ongoing trade war, according to the top equity strategist at Goldman Sachs.

Peter Oppenheimer told CNBC's "Street Signs" on Tuesday that China may impose tariffs on industry components that could have an effect on supply chains.

U.S.Technology firms could be first in the firing line, Goldman's chief global equity strategist added.

"The target may be technology companies that have been the main driver of the equity bull market that we have seen in the U.S. and beyond," Oppenheimer said.

China has said it has no choice but to retaliate against the latest round of U.S. tariffs announced Monday by President Donald Trump. Washington will impose 10 percent tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese imports, and those duties will rise to 25 percent at the end of the year. The U.S. had already levied tariffs on $50 billion worth of Chinese products which Beijing responded to with measures targeting the same amount on American goods.

Oppenheimer said another direct effect of China's response could be to raise the cost of goods in U.S. stores and that could lead to an uptick in inflation.

"Maybe a small amount to begin with, but rising inflation at a time when you have had the economy growing for nine years, with extremely strong momentum at the moment, could feed into inflation and interest rate expectations," he added.

The direct effect of tariffs on global growth should be relatively small, according to Oppenheimer. But he cautioned that the follow-on impact on confidence and investment decisions could become a drag on higher risk assets.

"I think that's why the markets are implying rather more of an impact than most trade models at this stage would suggest," he said.

Oppenheimer said he expects low returns in the medium-term and is advising investors to be overweight in cash, stocks and commodities while underweight in government bonds and other credit.

On a tactical basis, Oppenheimer said there could be some opportunity in emerging market stocks and currencies, which are "beginning to look cheap."