Long before Donald Trump’s election victory, individual investors were already concerned about market uncertainties, Europe and the global economy. Prior to Trump’s surprise election, stocks declined only to surge again once the results were in. It’s safe to say that the election’s outcome took the markets by surprise.
Conventional Wall Street wisdom was that Hillary Clinton would win the presidency. Many market gurus shared the belief that if the unexpected happened and Trump won (and this was deemed unlikely) that we’d see a major stock market slide. In this latter prediction, they were correct. The market slid – but only for a few hours. Then we saw a strong rally that has continued, but at a less dramatic pace. In the first day following the announcement of Trump’s victory, we saw stock futures plunge – then reverse and surge. Bonds strengthened initially and then dropped as yields jumped higher. Among specific industry segments, we also saw sharp reversals – utility stocks fell out of favor while financial stocks took off after a long time in the doldrums. But are we through with this roller-coaster?
Change and More Change
So where are we headed? Truth is, no one really knows. Most experts don’t read much into these early market gyrations. Investors don’t like uncertainty, and there’s more happening than investors have seen for decades. These changes extend way beyond the White House. Interest rates, geopolitical issues in the Middle East, ISIS, and economic slowdowns in Brazil, China, as well as in Europe have investors scratching their heads and worrying about what to do.
It is expected that post-election, the Republican-controlled government might undo regulations, and that this might be good for some companies’ profit margins. But there also are worries that a Trump administration might curtail, or even shutter, regulatory watchdogs like the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. A move like this would be great for bank stocks, but might not be good news for consumers or the economy. (Think: Wells Fargo.) For the most part, investment analysts urge caution and patience before investors make any significant changes. It’s still very early, and we simply don’t know what will happen.
On the upside, the election might act as a positive catalyst for the economy. Recent data shows the labor market has been improving for quite some time and that economic growth is accelerating. Some traders expect to see bond yields increase under this scenario. Short-term interest rates are expected to rise. Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen has stated that an interest rate increase is “relatively likely” to happen – perhaps at the Fed’s next meeting. Rising rates would help banks and financial stocks and help support a stronger dollar.
Of course, risks remain for both domestic and worldwide markets – as they always have. For most individual investors, the experts recommend a wait-and-see approach and generally favor broad portfolio diversification.
The comments above are general in nature and are not intended to replace the advice of professional tax and investment advisors.