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Sunday, January 16, 2022

Wall Street enthusiasm for Trump win spurs record-breaking week

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A record-setting week on Wall Street saw investors swap presidential pre-election jitters for enthusiasm at Donald Trump’s victory over Hillary Clinton.

It ultimately propelled the Dow Jones industrial average to consecutive all-time highs this week and gave the Standard and Poor’s 500 index its biggest weekly gain in two years. The rally lost some steam on Friday, pulling the S&P 500 slightly lower.

The Dow rose 39.78 points, or 0.2%, to 18,847.66. The S&P 500 index fell 3.03 points, or 0.1%, to 2,164.45. The Nasdaq composite index gained 28.32 points, or 0.5%, to 5,237.11.

For months, investors viewed Mr Trump and his proposed agenda as a more risky bet for the economy and the markets than his rival, who had been widely perceived as the candidate most likely to keep the status quo in place.

But then the billionaire won, and Republicans retained majorities in the House and Senate, ensuring that the president-elect’s party will be in control when he takes office on January 20.

“I don’t think people planned on a straight Republican sweep,” said JJ Kinahan, TD Ameritrade’s chief strategist.

“All of a sudden you realise some of the things that the markets have been wishing for have a chance to be done. That’s why we’ve rallied so much. This scenario was such a low probability, nobody was planning for it.”

Investors are now betting that Mr Trump and a Republican-controlled congress will have a clear pathway to boost infrastructure spending, cut taxes and relax regulations that affect energy, finance and other businesses.

That agenda flipped investors’ priorities this week away from defensive assets like bonds, utilities and phone companies, which traders had favoured for much of this year, to healthcare, industrial and financial stocks, which notched their best week since 2009.

The trades mark a reversal from the last couple of years, when investors coped with government gridlock, sluggish economic growth and low interest rates by prizing less-risky assets and stocks like phone companies and utilities with high dividends.

Investors also are betting that Mr Trump’s policies will lead to higher interest rates, which benefits banks by making it more profitable to lend money.

The anticipation of higher interest rates fuelled the sell-off in bonds this week that sent bond prices lower and drove up the yield on the 10-year Treasury note to the highest level since January.

On Monday it was 1.83% and it hit 2.14% as of late Thursday. Bond trading was closed on Friday in observance of Veterans’ Day.

That yield is a benchmark used to set interest rates on many kinds of loans including home mortgages.

The move away from bonds, utilities and other safe-play assets is likely to continue as long as investors believe that Mr Trump’s economic policies will lead to growth in the economy and usher in higher interest rates.

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