January 17, 2017, 6:00pm EST
As we kick off inauguration week, we have a continuation of this “buy the rumor, sell the fact” trade going on in markets.
We often see this phenomenon–it’s a reflection of investors pricing new information in anticipation of an event, and then selling into the event on the notion that the market has already valued the new information. And as we discussed last week, it looks like we’ve already been working on this “sell the fact” phase. Stocks have stalled, the dollar has pulled back a bit and global interest rates have slid off of the post-election highs. But as I said, these retracements should be shallow and short-lived.
Why? Because we appear to finally be in an environment where optimism (not hope) is outweighing fear. Contrary to the narrative of skepticim coming from the media, the markets, the data and the players are all sending very positive signals on the policy outlook.
The media has warned about the dangers of Trump’s rhetoric. Meanwhile, those that have been most directly targeted haven’t become enemies, they’ve quickly become allies and advocates of the Trump administration, making concessions and buying into the growth outlook. We’ve seen it at the corporate level (from GM to Alibaba). And we’ll likely see it at the sovereign level. The threats of taxes and fines have leveraged jobs with U.S. corporates. Tariffs can leverage better trade deals in a world and time that everyone can greatly benefit from better U.S. growth, which can ultimately lead to better and more sustainable global growth.
On the data front, small business optimism is running at the highest level in 37 years. And, as we’re getting into the heart of earnings seasons, the positive surprises are already coming in bigger and at a hotter pace. That’s for the fourth quarter, with just a sliver of post-election certainty priced in.
Add to that, the most troubled industries through the post-financial crisis period have been energy and financials. Financials now have the tailwind of rising interest rates and an outlook for softer regulation. Energy companies have spent that past couple of years cutting costs and reducing debt in the oil price crash. With oil back above $50 and with good prospects to go higher as they ramp up production, they will become earnings machines. This is all fuel for hotter earnings and higher stocks.
Plus, on the earnings note, people are just beginning to wake up to the fact that a better growth environment and a dramatic cut in the corporate tax rate will pump up broad market earnings next year–perhaps as much as 15%-20% better than what’s already projected for 2017.
With all of this in mind, it’s unlikely that investors will retrench over the coming months and wait for proof that Trump promises will be kept and Trump policies will be executed well. Instead, following the swearing in of the new President on Friday, we’ll probably see the “reflation” rally resume.
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