US stocks surge following election; bond prices tumble
By The Associated Press
It turns out that President Donald Trump might not be bad for the stock market after all.
Asian stock markets tumbled shortly after Trump overtook Hillary Clinton in the presidential electoral vote count early Wednesday. From there, all signs quickly pointed to a big stumble for Wall Street — that never materialized.
Soon after Trump was confirmed as America’s 45th president and he delivered an acceptance speech pledging to unify a deeply divided nation, global financial markets steadied.
The U.S. stock market wavered in the first hour of trading, but then moved sharply higher, flirting by late afternoon with a record high for the Dow Jones industrial average.
“He took on a remarkably conciliatory posture,” said Eric Wiegand, senior portfolio manager at the Private Client Reserve at U.S. Bank. “That went a long way to demonstrating perhaps for the first time, or very few times, his presidential disposition and gave a greater sense of calm. That’s what had an early reprieve in the markets.”
The Dow was up 263 points, or 1.4 percent, to 18,595 as of 3:39 p.m. Eastern Time. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index gained 24 points, or 1.2 percent, to 2,163. The Nasdaq composite index rose 51 points, or 1 percent, to 5,245.
Markets had been jittery in recent weeks over the prospect of a Trump administration. Last week, the U.S. stock market capped a nine-day losing streak as investors grew concerned that Clinton, considered the status quo candidate, might not win. Many Wall Street watchers had anticipated a rocky turn for the market in the event of a victory by Trump, who had been seen as more of a wild card
But once traders digested that Trump ahd prevailed, they piled into health care and financial stocks, sectors seen as likely to fare poorly under a Clinton administration. And they sold off safe-haven stocks like utilities and consumer-focused companies.
Financial companies led the gainers, surging 4.2 percent. Banks and other financial stocks tend to benefit from higher interest rates and less government regulation, two things investors anticipate could happen during a Trump presidency.
Health care stocks were also heading sharply higher. Traders had feared Clinton would implement curbs on drug pricing increases that could hurt drugmakers and biotechnology companies.
Utilities were down the most, sliding 3.5 percent, followed closely by consumer-focused stocks. Crude oil prices closed higher after being down earlier in the day.
A sell-off in bonds sent prices tumbling, driving the yield on the 10-year Treasury note up to 2.08 percent from 1.86 percent late Tuesday, a large move. That’s the highest the rate has been since January. That rate is a benchmark used to set interest rates on many kinds of loans including home mortgages.
Traders are selling bonds to hedge against the possibility that interest rates, which have been ultra-low for years, could rise steadily again under a Trump administration, said Tom di Galoma, managing director of trading at Seaport Global Securities.
“People are starting to believe that Donald Trump is good for the economy, which makes him not so good for the bond market,” di Galoma said. “You’ve also had the stock market come back overnight. People are starting to realize that a Trump presidency is not the end of the world.”
Health care companies like hospital chains and some insurers that gained business from the Affordable Care Act’s coverage expansion took heavy losses. Meanwhile, shares jumped for drugmakers and pharmacy benefits managers that likely will face less regulatory scrutiny over price increases from a Trump administration.
HCA, the nation’s largest hospital chain, was down nearly 11 percent, while Viagra maker Pfizer climbed more than 8 percent, the biggest gain in the Dow. The biggest pharmacy benefits manager, Express Scripts Holding Co., was up more than 7 percent.
Traders also bid up shares in defense contractors, anticipating the companies will thrive under a Trump presidency. Northrop Grumman climbed 5.3 percent, while Lockheed Martin rose 6.3 percent. Raytheon added 7.5 percent.
Firearm sales typically surge when a presidential candidate who favors an expansion of gun-control laws is elected. That’s not the case with Trump, however. That gave investors a reason to sell shares in firearm makers. Smith & Wesson slid 15.8 percent, while Sturm, Ruger & Co., fell 14.6 percent.
In Europe, Germany’s DAX rose 1.6 percent, while France’s CAC-40 gained 1.5 percent. The FTSE 100 index of leading British shares was 1 percent higher.
The Mexican peso fell sharply, declining 8.4 percent against the dollar as the prospect that Trump would repeal favorable trade policies with Mexico. The U.S. currency rose sharply to 19.75 Mexican pesos from 18.68 pesos.
Trump doesn’t formally take the reins of power until January but he will begin the transition to his presidency almost immediately. In the coming weeks, investors will be looking to see if he further tempers some of the rhetoric that polarized American opinion and often spooked investors in financial markets.
Another point of interest will center on the U.S.’s trade relations with China and its impact across Asia. Trump’s victory has raised concerns that the U.S. and China might embark on a trade war of sorts and that protectionism around the world will grow.
Those concerns weighed heavily on Asian stocks. Japan’s Nikkei 225 index closed 5.4 percent lower, recouping some losses. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng closed 2.2 percent lower.
Associated Press writer Kelvin Chan in Hong Kong contributed to this report. Pylas contributed from London.
Copyright 2016 The Associated Press.