U.S. stocks sink on European growth worries—5 experts react

U.S. stocks took a hit Thursday on concerns around global growth after the European Central Bank cut its forecast for 2019 and announced plans to stimulate the European economy, but Wall Street experts say it’s not all bad.

Even as weaker growth and inflation in Europe typically don’t help the U.S. economy, some see the decision by ECB President Mario Draghi as a welcome reprieve for a U.S. stock market that has seen especially volatile trading in recent months.

Here are five experts’ takes on Thursday’s moves:

• Art Hogan, chief market strategist at National Securities, saw the action as the beginning of U.S. stocks digesting their recent rally: “Our clients very much are attuned to the fact that we went down too far, too fast in the fourth quarter of last year, particularly in December. So, therefore, that V-shaped recovery has probably been too quick. And I think we’re at a point where investors understand that when you move that quickly in one direction, you have to take some time to digest that move. I think we’re at that period now, so I’m not surprised at all [that we’re] finding ourselves spending some time between 2,750 and 2,800, unless and until we actually see the manifestation of good news coming out of the things we’ve started to price in, things like the trade war being over. We need to see that turn into good news and economic data.”

• UBS’ Art Cashin said Thursday’s drop was a sign “that things are slowing down. We’re getting more and more reports that this face-off between the U.S. and China is beginning to affect global trade as a whole, and Europe seems to be floundering a bit. You’ve got nothing good from Draghi. You’re at important technical levels. Monday, you had gone down and had a nice bounce. Yesterday, we retested those lows, but we didn’t get a bounce. And this morning, when the market began to erode, they broke through those lows, and that’s when selling accelerated. People said, ‘I don’t want this risk profile here.’ So, you went through 25,611 and now you’re trying to bounce off 25,360. And we’ll see. So far, it’s not terribly inspiring a bounce.”

• Liz Young, director of market strategy at BNY Mellon, said recession worries were probably overblown: “The data doesn’t go back very far, but since the ’70s, it’s never been the case that somebody else leads us into a global recession. The U.S. always leads that. So there’s no signs of recession in the U.S. right now, or at least very soft signs, and we’re not expecting that to come to fruition anytime soon. […] We had 70 percent of the market make a one-month high recently. … That doesn’t happen in a bear market. We’ve had [a] broadening of this rally. You’ve got things like industrials taking part, financials, small-cap; that’s healthy for a market as well. So we’re hoping that it continues to prod along. When a market is up 10, 11, 12 percent in two months, the first two months of the year, it was a lot easier to make a case for it to pull back.”

• Gilman Hill Asset Management’s Jenny Harrington agreed, contending that maybe it’s time for the U.S. market to simply “bump along” for a while: “I think we can make new highs. They just don’t have to be made every day. […] I don’t see it as a storm gathering in Europe. There’s still positive growth, expectations. Yeah, it’s almost nothing. It’s, like, 1 percent. But you have the ECB really working hard to protect the banks and to protect the economy, I think, in a way that they hadn’t done in past recessions in Europe. So … I don’t think that we’re going to suffer from that. I’m just reminded of one quick thing: I have this wonderful client, an older British guy, and he always says, ‘One bets against the U.S. at one’s own peril.’ And I visited with him yesterday and I was very much reminded of that, and I think the U.S. absolutely can remain strong. I think that earnings were down in the first quarter [and] I think that estimates could pick up towards [the] later half of the year.”

• Jon Najarian, of the Najarian Family Office, backed up those points, calling the ECB’s forecast cut a “short-term negative”: “People weren’t sure that this would be a move that he would make and that the ECB in general would push for this. Now that they have and they’ve put it in writing, held a press conference, talked about it, I think, overall, that’s going to be a good thing for Europe. It might not be good for some of the debt that they’re building up with it, but just like our debt, they’re not thinking about that right now.”

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