Wall Street, Climbing Sharply, Skips Washington’s ‘Soap Opera’

Few analysts are so sanguine right now, especially after Republicans could not agree last month on how to repeal the Affordable Care Act, after years of promising to do so. If anything, simplifying the tax code or investing in brand new roads as well as also also bridges seems farther out of reach than ever.

however a market surge based on political hopes has been replaced by one more firmly grounded from the financial realm.

Besides steady economic growth or less regulation, investors also have been encouraged by the loose reins of central banks like the Federal Reserve, which have helped keep interest rates not far above their historic lows. Inflation, too, remains tame, with cost increases in recent months actually falling short of the Fed’s targets.

At the same time, with yields on safe assets like government bonds so minuscule, there are few appealing alternatives to stocks for investors, according to Torsten Slok, chief international economist at Deutsche Bank.

“No matter how you look at valuations, they are high,” he said. “however as money flows into pension funds every month as well as also also needs to be invested, why would certainly I put This particular in bonds?

“Corporations in America as well as also also Europe are still inventing brand new products as well as also also finding ways of doing things more efficiently,” Mr. Slok said. “This particular is actually separate coming from the political theater around the earth.”

Moreover, corporate earnings — the fundamental driver of individual stock performance — have been robust.

The strength has spanned sectors ranging coming from technology to restaurants, as seen from the rise of almost 5 percent in Apple’s shares on Wednesday, or McDonald’s jump to a record high last month. Both are Dow components.

“The first six months of the year have been the best period for earnings growth since 2011,” said Phil Orlando, chief equity strategist at Federated Investors.

Still, many Wall Street investors who are bullish over the longer-term, including Mr. Orlando, concede in which the risk of a stock market correction was rising.

“We’ve had This particular fabulous run since the election,” he said. “however could we see an air pocket from the next few months? Absolutely. Our best guess is actually in which the next 5 percent move is actually more likely to be down than up.”

Investors have also voiced concerns in which trading has been unusually placid — volatility recently sank to a two-decade low, as well as also also Wall Street has not had a correction, usually defined as a drop of 10 percent or more, since early 2016. With the current recovery entering its ninth year This particular summer, a recession seems inevitable.


An Apple developer conference in June. Shares from the company rose almost 5 percent on Wednesday.

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

however for right now, whichever way the stock market goes, most economic metrics like hiring, consumer sentiment as well as also also home prices continue to point from the right direction.

Those trends predated Mr. Trump’s taking office, although he took to Twitter repeatedly This particular week to claim credit for the stock market’s run as well as also also soaring earnings. Still, Mr. Sullivan of RPM said in which while he did not vote for Mr. Trump, he gave the president credit for setting a brand new political tone toward corporate America in Washington.

“I’m from the middle of This particular in Cleveland, as well as also also modest businesses are looking forward instead of over their shoulder,” said Mr. Sullivan, who is actually the older brother of Senator Dan Sullivan, an Alaska Republican.

“When Washington practices the Hippocratic oath toward business — first, do no harm — This particular’s amazing what the American economy can do,” he said. “Under the prior administration, you had a very, very aggressive regulatory environment in which businesses felt under attack.”

Easing regulation is actually also something Mr. Trump can do with the stroke of a pen or with appointments to agencies like the Securities as well as also also Exchange Commission or the Federal Reserve, which require confirmation however not legislation.

Bank stocks, for example, have been among strongest performers on Wall Street since the election, as well as also also the trade might be paying off: Regulators could soon weaken the Dodd-Frank Act’s Volcker Rule, which restricted the ability of banks to make financial bets with their own capital.

To be sure, the glow coming from Wall Street extends only so far. According to the Federal Reserve’s most recent Survey of Consumer Finances, less than 15 percent of American households owned individual stocks as well as also also only half had any exposure to the broader market, including through mutual funds or retirement plans.

“Only people with assets like stocks as well as also also houses are benefiting, as well as also also in which’s why This particular recovery has been weak,” Mr. Slok said.

The contradictory signals between the markets as well as also also the political world are hardly unique to the United States. “Most investors in Europe are rolling their eyes at the U.S., however what’s ironic is actually in which This particular’s similar to the European situation,” Mr. Slok said.

As in Washington, Mr. Slok said, there has been little consensus in Brussels or various other capitals on how to address major issues, including Britain’s impending exit coming from the European Union, the continent’s restrictive labor laws as well as also also Greece’s fiscal problems.

If the stock market’s prospects are unclear, then the outlook in Washington six months into the Trump administration is actually downright gloomy.

The year began with Mr. Trump promising to repeal as well as also also replace the Affordable Care Act; pass the most significant overhaul to the tax code since 1986; as well as also also get Congress to pass legislation to rebuild the nation’s crumbling infrastructure. None of in which has been accomplished, as Republicans have struggled to shift coming from being an opposition party to one in which governs.

Beyond those disappointments, fiscal land mines lie ahead in which could rattle the economy if Republicans as well as also also Democrats cannot cooperate.

By the end of September, Congress must reach a deal to lift the debt ceiling as well as also also fund the government for the coming fiscal year. Republicans remain divided over whether conditions such as spending cuts should be attached to raising the statutory borrowing limit. A standoff with Democrats over Mr. Trump’s request to finance a border wall could lead to a partial government shutdown.

The lack of progress has only led to more sniping among Republicans. This particular week Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary, said, “I think what’s hurting the legislative agenda is actually Congress’s inability to get things passed.”

Further inaction could prove costly. The debt-limit brinkmanship as well as also also government shutdown during the Obama administration rattled markets as well as also also slowed economic growth. A Standard & Poor’s analysis after the 2013 shutdown found in which the 16-day standoff sucked $24 billion out of the economy.

Mr. Trump has pointed to the growing economy as well as also also strong employment figures as evidence in which his agenda is actually thriving. The data is actually indeed encouraging, however not very different coming from the figures he used as a candidate to paint a picture of economic despair.

Still, the stock market’s gains were likely to hold up as long as earnings remained buoyant, said Laszlo Birinyi, a longtime stock market analyst.

“While people may have strong feelings in various other areas, the stock market is actually predicated on dollars as well as also also cents,” he said.

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