THURS­DAY MAR­KETS

USA TODAY US Edition - - MONEY - Adam Shell

The good times on Wall Street, where stocks are trad­ing near record highs as the long­est bull run in his­tory rolls on, aren’t be­ing en­joyed in many for­eign mar­kets, where trade dis­putes and a strong dol­lar are hurt­ing growth and push­ing stocks sharply lower.

Ear­lier this week, some mar­kets – such as Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index, main­land China’s Shang­hai composite and a broad-based emerg­ing mar­kets ex­change-traded fund – fell more than 20 per­cent from their Jan­uary highs into bear mar­ket ter­ri­tory. In con­trast, the U.S.-fo­cused large-com­pany Stan­dard & Poor’s 500 stock index is up nearly 9 per­cent this year and just a tad shy of its record clos­ing high hit in late Au­gust.

Bulls see the trend of U.S. stocks do­ing bet­ter con­tin­u­ing, stress­ing that the do­mes­tic mar­ket is a haven of sorts. They make the case that the U.S.-driven econ­omy, which grew 4.2 per­cent last quar­ter, is less vul­ner­a­ble to the down­side of global trade dis­putes. Con­sumers, re­spon­si­ble for about two-thirds of the na­tion’s growth, are in good shape. Both shop­pers and work­ers are ben­e­fit­ing from the low­est un­em­ploy­ment rate in 18 years, a key fac­tor that lifted prof­its at U.S. com­pa­nies last quar­ter at the fastest pace since 2010.

Pes­simists, counter that the U.S. won’t be shielded from slow­ing growth abroad for­ever. They warn that the Amer­i­can econ­omy and stock mar­ket aren’t to­tally im­mune to the slow­down abroad. Big com­pa­nies in the S&P 500 get more than 40 per­cent of their sales from abroad, so con­tin­ued weak­ness will even­tu­ally cause both U.S. busi­ness and cor­po­rate earn­ings to slow.

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