‘Political posturing’: Why escalating U.S.-China tensions are not rocking markets

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“And when you get the second wave, the mystique is gone,” said Mordy.

China, Mordy said, also doesn’t appear ready to up the ante. Chinese officials have been “biting their tongues” in the current dispute because their top goal is to preserve economic growth, Mordy said.

Even China’s state-backed media has begun to reflect this strategy. The Global Times, a mouthpiece of theChinese Communist Party, published a column on Sunday arguing for restraint because the latest U.S. measures were only attempts to gain traction in the election.

“If we ignore those actions and meet them mainly with ridicule, then we might gain more international support than be directly confronting them,” the editorial said.

That’s why Toronto-based Purpose Investments chief investment officer Greg Taylor recommends that investors continue doing what they have so far in response to the building tensions: “Keep your head down,” he said.

That should also be the case when it comes to Chinese stocks that are no longer red-hot due to the tensions. The tensions may not be affecting U.S. markets, but Chinese markets have begun to trade sideways.

The tensions may not be affecting U.S. markets, but Chinese markets have begun to trade sideways. Aly Song/Reuters files

Much of that change is due to the weakness in Chinese tech stocks trading on both Chinese and U.S. exchanges. Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. is down about five per cent since reaching an all-time high in early August. Tencent Holdings Ltd. is down eight per cent since reaching its own high.

Frank Holmes, CEO of the Portland-based U.S. Global Investors, is discarding the recent movement in these stocks because they remain fundamentally strong. Even if the U.S. goes through with its threat to delist certain Chinese American Depositary Receipts or limit the business that Chinese tech companies can do in the U.S., it won’t matter much to companies such as Alibaba that draw a majority of their revenue from Asia.

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