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Economy, Stocks, Trading  | May 15, 2019

The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped as much as some 700 points Monday, while the S&P 500 shed as much as 80 points (2.8%) after China retaliated against President Donald Trump's increased tariffs on Chinese goods. What should you do now?

With the S&P and the Dow Jones Industrial Average both down about 4.6% since their near-time peak on May 3, here's what three of the TheStreet's experts say you should do:

Doug Kass, RealMoney Pro Columnist, Principal at Hedge Fund Seabreeze Partners Management

"With the likelihood that we will see further trade tensions with China and a likely slowdown in global economic activity -- providing continued repression in global interest rates -- the case for gold has increased," Kass said. "Central banks seem hell-bent in continuing their monetary largesse as signs of a structural growth slowdown multiply."

Kass added that Larry Kudlow, Trump's director of the National Economic Council, has said that "the Fed may not hike interest rates [again] in my lifetime."

"Debasing of currencies and disregard for sovereign deficits should be viewed as friendly to the gold markets, Kass said. Plus, "real interest rates have fallen sharply -- which gold historically is tied to." He noted that the five-year real U.S. Treasury rate has fallen from 1.16% in November to just 0.51% as of Monday.

Bob Lang, RealMoney Columnist, Co-Portfolio Manager of Trifecta Stocks

"It's time to be serious here and raise some cash," Lang said. "After such a strong move down, many are thinking 'that is it.' [But] volatility is exploding here over the past several sessions and staying elevated. That's a bad sign, and while the internals of the market are not poor over the longer term, the short term is going to provide some challenges. There will be a chance to get on board some names, but for now, it's time to be cautious and rational."

"With markets once again coming under pressure, I will suggest buying some protection [with puts]," he said. "Perhaps you may think it's too late or the horse is out of the barn -- frankly, many out there feel this way. But with the erratic newsflow and sentiment shifting in real time, it is prudent to be cautious." 

"We suggest adding some index puts as protection here -- the SPDR S&P 500 ETF, SPDR Dow Jones Industrial Average ETF or PowerShares QQQ ETF are just fine," Lang said. "At-the-money strikes for one to two weeks out will provide some good insurance in case the markets go off the rails.

[But as] we are pretty well oversold, a modest bounce could occur, too. So for those nimble enough, you could add some out-of-the-money calls as well -- again, with SPY, DIA or QQQ -- to take advantage of the oversold. [But] we won't bounce hard without some news, so play it close to the vest."

Chris Versace, Real Money Columnist, Co-Portfolio Manager of Trifecta Stocks and Stocks Under $10

"We'll continue to look for portfolio prospects that are poised to benefit from pronounced tailwinds, as well as ones that have either more U.S.-focused business models or ones that focus on inelastic and consumable products," Versace said. Two such companies are Procter and Gamble and Colgate-Palmolive, although he's not specifically endorsing them.

"We also like dividend-paying companies -- particularly those that fall into the 'Dividend Aristocrats' category because they've consistently grown their dividends for the past 10 years," Versace added.

Specifically, he said that spice-and-condiments company McCormick & Co. could be a good pick with a dividend yield of 1.5%, although it does have international exposure that could suffer in a trade war. Versace also likes At&T, which currently yields about 6.6%.

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