By Kavitha Shastry
U.S. markets dropped Monday as questions over the future of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein added to investor concerns, which were already heightened by the onset of the latest round of tariffs on Chinese goods.
"The political environment seems to be mayhem on a daily basis, and we're just going to have to get used to that," said Jason Moser, analyst at The Motley Fool, in an interview on Cheddar Monday.
Reports emerged late in the morning that Rosenstein, who's overseeing Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, was resigning his post after a bombshell report last week that he'd suggested recording conversations with President Donald Trump and recruiting cabinet members to call for his impeachment. Later stories suggested Rosenstein expected to be fired, and then that he would meet with the President Thursday to discuss the situation.
The news accelerated losses on the Dow Industrials, with the benchmark index falling nearly 200 points at the lows of the day.
Industrial stocks were among the biggest drags on the market ー DowDuPont ($DWDP), Caterpillar ($CAT), 3M ($MMM), and Boeing ($BA) were all down more than a percent. General Electric ($GE) saw shares fall to a nine-year low.
The weakness came as tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods ー and reciprocal duties on $60 billion worth of U.S. exports ー went into effect at midnight. In the days leading up to the deadline, many American companies, including Walmart ($WMT) and Target ($TGT), warned the taxes will force them to raise prices for U.S. consumers. Even companies like Apple ($AAPL), whose smartwatches, AirPods, and flagship iPhones were spared in this round, have spoken out against the levies.
"Ultimately tariffs do nothing but increase the cost of doing business with everyone," Moser said. "That's the more relevant issue as it pertains to housing, which is such a big cornerstone of our economy. That's something investors want to pay a little more attention to."
The National Association of Homebuilders estimates that a full $10 billion dollars worth of affected imports are in the renovation and construction space. Shares of companies like Toll Brothers ($TOL) and Lennar ($LEN) were both down more than 2 percent to start the week.
Markets also reacted Monday to a slew of multi-billion dollar mergers.
SiriusXM ($SIRI) said it was buying music-streaming pioneer Pandora Media ($P) for $3.5 billion, and fashion brand Michael Kors ($KORS) reportedly was nearing a deal to buy Versace for about $2 billion.
Comcast ($CMCSA) also won the long-running war for British broadcaster Sky, outbidding 21st Century Fox ($FOXA) with a $38.8 billion offer at auction over the weekend.
Some analysts wondered why the media giant was willing to pay such a high price for a legacy brand.
"This seems to be doubling down on the past," said BTIG analyst Rich Greenfield.
Comcast shares fell nearly 6 percent Monday, at one point posting their biggest percent loss since 2009.
For full interview click here.