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Trump’s tweets move markets: now investors can get fair warning via new app

Trump Triggers alert users to tweets from the US president elect that mention stocks in their portfolios via mobile phone

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 19 January, 2017, 3:02pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 19 January, 2017, 10:27pm

Global investors have been on a roller coaster ride for a year, ever since Donald Trump’s Twitter account redefined the way he conducted a presidential campaign, his subsequent policy musings, and quite possibly his future presidential pronouncements.

As he has shown in multiple occasions, Trump’s tweets – especially those aimed at publicly traded companies – can move markets, and wipe out billions of dollars through 140 simple characters.

Now a new app has come to investors’ rescue, or at least alert them that a tweet has been sent.

Trigger Finance, founded in June 2016 by a former JPMorgan trader, was originally a simple tool that helped users monitor potentially market-moving real world events. It rolled out an enhancement called Trump Triggers on January 3 to monitor the musings of the American “Twitterer in Chief”.

“This one-of-a-kind trigger notifies you when President-Elect Trump tweets about a publicly traded stock that you own in real time” via smart phones, Trigger Finance said on its social media account during its launch of the enhancement. On the app’s dashboard, users can choose to be alerted if Trump tweets about any stock, or the stocks they own.

For now, the new tool is getting lukewarm reception from brokers.

“I will definitely not download this app on my phone,” said Louis Tse Ming-kwong, director at VC Brokerage in Hong Kong, adding that people should make their decisions based on solid information rather than random tweets. “I will just have a laugh about those tweets.”

With 19 million followers on Twitter, the musings of the US president elect may be more than a smirk or a laugh.

Trump lashed out at the US Air Force’s weapons programme in December, criticising the F-35 jet fighter’s US$40 billion development cost as being “out of control”. Shares of military contractors plunged, led by Northrop Grumman’s 5 per cent decline and Lockheed Martin’s 4 per cent fall. Even BAE Systems in the UK wasn’t spared. All in, the three stocks saw US$5.3 billion of market value wiped out in the 24 hours after Trump’s tweet.

Japan’s Toyota Motor Corp, which operates six assembly plants in the US starting from as early as 1984, wasn’t spared either.

“NO WAY! Build plant in US or pay big border tax,” said a Trump tweet on January 5, in response to a 20-month old announcement that Toyota was building Corollas in Mexico, bound for the US market. Toyota’s shares fell 1.7 per cent in response, wiping out 388 billion yen (US$3.3 billion) in a day.

“We’ve been asked to trigger on all players on Trump’s cabinet,” Trigger Finance’s co-founder and chief executive Rachel Mayer wrote on, what else, her Twitter account.

In a written reply to the South China Morning Post, Mayer said the idea of creating the app came from “the overwhelming demand from our users who have been asking for it since the election”.

In response to the lukewarm reception from some brokers, Mayer said she believes there will always be sophisticated investors who see Trump’s comments as market opportunities.

“Most of our users are using it purely as an informational tool to see how the future President affects their portfolios, and to make sense of any trends that might emerge from his tweets,” she said.

Mayer also said the iOS-based app will be expanded to the Android platform soon.

Alex Wong Kwok-ying, director of Ample Finance Group, said the app does not carry very substantial meaning for investors.

“Trump’s tweets about companies might have a short-term impact on their shares but the market could recover very soon from it,” he said.