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It's time to get defensive with markets set to 'get ugly': Strategist

Key Points
  • Investors should begin looking at defensive stocks with the market set to get "ugly" in the second half of this year, strategist Michael Kantrowitz says.
  • Kantrowitz says the ongoing U.S.-China trade war has the potential to be the catalyst of a global economic slowdown.
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Strategist: There's a new Trump trade and things are about to get ugly

Investors should begin looking at defensive stocks, because the stock market is set to get "ugly" on global growth scares in the second half of this year, a top strategist told CNBC on Wednesday.

Michael Kantrowitz, macro head of portfolio strategy at Cornerstone, told CNBC's "Fast Money " that the ongoing U.S.-China trade war has the potential to be the catalyst of a global economic slowdown. Most recently, the U.S. increased duties on $200 billion worth of Chinese products from 10% to 25%. China announced plans to raise tariff rates on $60 billion in U.S. goods.

As a result of the trade dispute, Kantrowitz recommended investing in the utilities, staples, REITs and health care sectors. He said that he is underweight on semiconductors.

Kantrowitz spoke shortly after U.S. stocks closed lower Wednesday, with the Dow, S&P 500 and Nasdaq all posting back-to-back losses.

Markets had initially rallied this month in part on hopes that the Federal Reserve would cut interest rates later this year as the U.S. economy shows signs of cooling. However, in a note to clients Monday, Goldman Sachs warned that the growing consensus that the Fed will cut rates soon is misguided.

On Tuesday, J.P. Morgan strategist Jason Hunter said investors should be "hesitant" about investing in stocks due to the possibility of bad trade news from this month's G-20 meeting.

President Donald Trump is expected to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the G-20 summit, which is scheduled for June 28-29 in Osaka, Japan. Trump confirmed to CNBC on Monday that additional tariffs on Chinese goods will be levied if Xi does not attend the meeting.