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Stocks plunge as trade fears resurface – five experts weigh in on what to watch

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Stocks drop as trade war heats up — What five experts say to do

Stocks are plummeting on Thursday as trade fears wash over Wall Street again.

Those losses put the Dow Jones Industrial Average on track for its fifth straight week in the red, a losing streak not seen since mid-2011.

Five experts reveal what they're watching.

Jay Jacobs, head of research and strategy at Global X Funds, says the damage to the economy is getting harder to bounce back from.

"This is a pretty aggressive escalation that's going to be harder and harder to walk back. Yes, it does create more of an incentive to create a deal, but at the same time, we see both sides really digging their heels in. The longer this goes on the more companies have to reorient their supply chains and sales processes, so it's going to be harder to unwind … I would say health-care stocks are pretty low exposed, a lot of domestic energy stocks that are benefiting from increased oil output are not as exposed to this. So there are more specific industries."

Steve Chiavarone, portfolio manager at Federated Investors, says this sell-off is not likely to get as bad as the drop late last year.

"The threat of tariffs couldn't get you over the finish line, and now from the U.S. perspective you're going to see if the pain of higher tariff rates bring the Chinese back to the negotiating table. That's going to take a while. It introduces volatility, but we don't think it gets you back anywhere near the Dec. 24 lows because you also had the Fed on the wrong side of things back in December, you also had economic and earnings data deteriorating, and you don't have either of those two things today."

Walter Piecyk, managing director of BTIG, says the trade war is going to hit Apple hard if it drags on.

"There's definitely very near-term impacts — meaning that a lot of things that Tim Cook talked about last quarter, which is that the sentiment towards Apple is positive as they exited the quarter, it's clearly turned negative. He's lucky that this is a low-volume quarter. So let's say China is going to buy 6 million phones, if that gets cut back by 2 million, there's $1.5 billion of revenue that's gone and 15 cents in earnings. But if this extends into the December quarter where China is going to buy 10, 11, 12 million phones and if it worsens where China doesn't even allow iPhones to get purchased then the impact to earnings becomes much more significant."

Barbara Reinhard, senior portfolio manager at Voya Investment Management, says fiscal policy should buoy markets, though a hit to the consumer could hurt Wall Street.

"We do see that there are signs of stabilization. We wouldn't call them green shoots yet, that would be too strong. But we do think the stimulus in the pipeline from China, we think that the fiscal ease that's in the pipeline also in Europe, there's about a four-tenths of a percentage point ease in fiscal policy this year, that will be a positive fiscal impulse. Those things matter for the rest of the world, so we see that we're in a stabilization period. … The next round of tariffs is really significant, and the next round tags consumers in a significant way. That means that you're likely to see continued exports from China continue to fall pretty dramatically. It's really hard to see that the U.S. would have much of an opportunity to have exports fall much more from here for China, but hitting the consumer is part of the economy that tariffs have not really touched thus far and the consumer is a very big part of the U.S. economy and the global economy."

Brian Nick, chief investment strategist at Nuveen, says markets are pricing in a future economic slowdown.

It's just the steady drumbeat of trade-related news. Even the economic data that we're getting, which has been soft, is coming from a month collected before these trade tensions were popping up again. Things like the weak retail sales number in the U.S., weak manufacturing number from the U.S. from April, don't even account for the crisis of confidence that's likely to emerge in May and June because of the renewed trade tensions. So I think it's the market anticipating more weak economic data ahead, potentially negative revisions to U.S. earnings. "