A change in sentiment was prevalent throughout the markets as new rules and regulatory reversals began to take effect. Volatility rose as markets tried to discern President Trump’s policies.
Equity markets propelled to new highs in January as optimism fueled U.S. equities, sending the Dow Jones Industrial Average to a new milestone level of 20,000. The S&P 500 Index and the Nasdaq Composite Index also reached new highs during the month.
Executive orders undertaken by the President were able to derail several rules signed into law by the Obama administration, yet fiscal policy initiatives proposed by President Trump such as tax cuts and tax reform need Congressional approval. The Congressional Review Act (CRA) will allow the Republican led Congress to reverse a number of regulations enacted by the prior administration.
Among President Trump’s first actions as president was to withdraw the U.S. from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, strengthen border parameters with Mexico and temporarily disallow certain immigrants from entering the U.S. Two highly contested oil pipeline projects were granted the ability to advance, the Keystone Pipeline and the Dakota Access pipeline.
Pharmaceutical companies became a Presidential target, as President Trump approached drug makers to lower their prices and manufacture their products in the U.S. The President’s agenda of repealing portions of the Affordable Care Act may also affect premium and medical costs.
Brexit became more of a challenge in January as the highest court in the U.K. ruled that Prime Minister Theresa May must seek a parliamentary vote in order to continue on with exiting the EU.
A continually strong dollar is creating headwinds for U.S. multinationals which post a large portion of their earnings from over sea’s sales. A weaker dollar would be beneficial to U.S. exporters making their products less expensive internationally.
Fiscal concepts presented by the President may encourage companies with ample cash to invest in capital rather than buying back their own stock or issuing heftier dividend payouts. A lagging key component of GDP has been capital spending.
The National Federation of Independent Business released their survey of small business optimism, which soared 7.5% to its fifth highest level in over 40 years of survey results.
As we have all witnessed President Trump has stirred up a lot of political dust in his haste to implement many of his campaign promises. According to the Kiplinger letter of Feb 3, 2017 Trump has already been named in 42 lawsuits. It will be interesting to see how his ambitious plans work out over the next year.
Max W. Smith, CFP®, CIMA® | Kent G. Forsey, CFP®