Mysterious traders may have made $3.5 billion off stock bets timed to Trump’s trade-war comments, Vanity Fair finds

  • Vanity Fair reported on Wednesday that before crucial points in the trade war, investors bought or sold thousands of electronically traded futures contracts, known as e-minis, on the S&P 500.
  • In one case, Vanity Fair said, a trader or group of traders made about $1.8 billion after buying 420,000 e-minis just before President Donald Trump said that talks with China were “back on track.”
  • Those isolated trades have totaled about $3.5 billion, according to Vanity Fair.
  • “There is definite hanky-panky going on,” a source described as a longtime Chicago Mercantile Exchange trader told Vanity Fair.
  • A Bloomberg article citing analysts poked holes in some of the Vanity Fair article’s assertions.

The trade war has consistently sent markets moving in the past year. And according to a new Vanity Fair report, some traders may have been forerunning new developments.

The magazine reported on Wednesday that some traders were suspiciously well positioned ahead of huge swings in the trade war by buying or selling hundreds of thousands of electronically traded futures contracts called “e-minis” on the S&P 500.

The magazine said that on September 10, a trader or group of traders bought 82,000 e-minis in the last 10 minutes of trading in New York, when it was almost 4 a.m. the next day in Beijing. A few hours later, the Chinese government announced it would lift tariffs on a range of American products. Markets surged, and the e-minis buyer made about $190 million, Vanity Fair found.

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