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S&P 500 hijacked by Trump’s trade war with 11% value lost – report

Despite recent rally, stocks have yet to turn neutral on the risk

The S&P 500 could have been 11% higher than where it is now if President Donald Trump hadn’t adopted a protectionist stance, research suggests.

As U.S. equities extend gains from their December lows, a fresh debate is brewing on Wall Street: has the market priced in a U.S.-China trade deal? Quite the contrary, according to Renaissance Macro Research.

By the firm's count, the S&P 500 could have been 11% higher than where it is now if President Donald Trump hadn't adopted a protectionist stance on global commerce.

RenMac uses a model to keep track of the day-to-day market impact from macro factors such as economic data, the Federal Reserve and Washington politics. According to its math, the positive developments on trade have helped the S&P 500 advance by 107 points this year, still not enough to cover all the trade-related losses. In fact, since the start of 2018, trade tensions have shaved 300 points off the benchmark index, equivalent to 11% of lost market value.

"The equity market has only partially retraced the losses associated with trade tensions," Neil Dutta, head of economics at RenMac, wrote in a note Wednesday. The market is "still not back to neutral on the trade issue," he said.

Mr. Dutta is among Wall Street prognosticators seeking to assess the market's thinking on trade. Last week, Savita Subramanian, Bank of America's head of U.S. equity strategy, said only a "partial deal" is currently reflected in U.S. stocks and if all issues get resolved to the benefit of corporate America, the S&P 500 could rise as much as 10%.

U.S. stocks have rallied this year amid positive developments in U.S.-China trade talks and a more dovish Federal Reserve. The S&P 500 has surged more than 18% from a Christmas Eve low, staging one of the fastest recoveries after falling to the brink of a bear market in December.