The most divisive and chaotic Presidential election campaign in recent memory is now over. Donald Trump emerged as the victor and now the markets must digest the news. Here are my impressions and analysis of what investors could expect moving forward.
Conventional wisdom was that Hillary Clinton would be the 45th President and that at least one house in the Congress would remain in Republican hands. Many investors have felt comfortable with a divided government.
It was predicted that if Donald Trump won the election, the stock markets would move violently lower. On the night of the election, as the results poured in and it looked more likely that Donald Trump had a chance of winning, the stock market futures sold off in excess of 850 points! As this possibility became a reality, the markets started to determine winners and losers of a Trump presidency.
Cause for Optimism?
There was already some optimism built into the stock market outlook for 2017. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index (S&P 500 Index) has had declining earnings for the past five quarters in a row. The Earnings Per Share growth (loss) for 2016 is estimated to be -0.2%, which is disappointing, but reflects the nagging drag energy has had. Upcoming 2017 is anticipated to be a different story. The consensus view points to a recovery of 6.1% in earnings with robust revenue growth because of higher wages, low gas prices and personal wealth gains (largely from the stock and housing markets). (Zacks Investment Management Newsletter, November 9, 2016)
However, there seems to be more optimism about the potential for even faster growth in the economy. This perception results from the view that there will be greater spending on infrastructure, lower tax rates, less regulation and, in general, a more business-friendly climate. That can be offset, in part, by the fear of a disruption in foreign trade resulting from challenging established trade agreements and a tougher stance on immigration.
The following is a list of sectors that can be affected by a Trump Presidency and a Republican Congress.
Energy – Expect fewer regulations for big oil companies and reduced subsidies for alternative energy. I expect more permits for development on federal lands, more drilling, more pipelines, and more coal, which could also benefit some railroad companies. However, some of the energy stocks may not perform as well because the potential additional supply could cause the price of oil to go down and stay down for an extended period of time.
Financials – There has been a very strong rally in this sector as soon as it was announced that Trump won the presidential election. He has promised to freeze new financial regulations and roll back some of the older ones including the controversial Dodd-Frank Act. This would likely favor smaller banks, which would benefit more from reduced regulatory costs. In addition, if interest rates move higher (see below), banks will enjoy higher net margin interest, which is crucial to their profitability.
Manufacturing – This will be an interesting sector to watch. On the one hand, manufacturing could be hurt with Trump’s tough talk on trade, including tariffs (particularly on imports from China) and tearing up NAFTA. It could be just tough talk and the start of a negotiation. On the other hand, lower energy prices could help manufacturing companies reduce costs.
Infrastructure – Most people agree that America needs to revitalize its ailing infrastructure. I expect big spending in this area. This would probably lead to more jobs, faster economic growth and a higher deficit, which could lead to higher interest rates. Trump has mentioned that he would have companies invest their own money to fund some of these projects, which would lead these companies to charge the users (i.e., toll roads) so the projects wouldn’t be all funded by the government.
Health Care – Trump wants to repeal the Affordable Care Act and allow individuals to buy policies directly from insurers that would likely be cheaper, but may not provide equally complete coverage. A centerpiece of his plan is allowing insurers to sell policies across state lines to promote competition. Fewer restrictions may bode well for health care and pharmaceutical companies.
Technology – These are worldwide companies. Since the election this sector has sold off for three reasons:
Bonds – Interest rates have risen fairly dramatically since the election. One could say it was a knee-jerk reaction to an unexpected result. The bond market has quickly re-priced bonds to reflect a new reality. It appears that the new President and Congress will agree to new fiscal measures that will complement monetary policy and fuel more growth in the economy. The consensus view is that this will in turn fuel inflation and, hence, higher interest rates. This is bad for bonds that are interest rate sensitive, such as longer-dated Treasuries or high-quality corporate bonds (although in time this will be better for savers).
The level of optimism in the markets is surprising given the derision Trump faced from Wall Street and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce during the election. While markets have initially rallied, we will be measured in our approach and take our time to review potential opportunities as well as areas to avoid. When we make recommendations to adjust, where appropriate, they will be based not on knee-jerk reactions but on the expected fundamentals going forward.
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When financial markets turn volatile, some investors show their frustration by fleeing the markets in search of alternatives that are designed to offer stability.
For example, in August 2015, investors pulled $79 billion from U.S. stock funds based on uncertain economic indicators and speculation about a potential increase in interest rates.1
For those looking for a way off Wall Street’s roller-coaster ride, annuities may offer an attractive alternative.
Annuities are contracts with insurance companies. The contracts, which can be funded with either a lump sum or through regular payments, are designed as financial vehicles for retirement purposes. In exchange for premiums, the insurance company agrees to make regular payments — either immediately or at some date in the future.
Meanwhile, the money used to fund the contract grows tax deferred. Unlike other tax advantaged retirement programs, there are no contribution limits on annuities. And annuities can be used in very creative and effective ways.
One strategy combines two different annuities to generate income and rebuild principal. Here’s how it works:
An investor simultaneously purchases a fixed–period immediate annuity and a single premium tax-deferred annuity, dividing capital between the two annuities in such a way that the combination is expected to produce tax-advantaged income for a set period of time and restore the original principal at the end of that time period.
Keep in mind that any withdrawals from the deferred annuity would be taxed as ordinary income. When the immediate annuity contract ends, the process can be repeated using the funds from the deferred annuity (see example). Remember, the guarantees of an annuity contract depend on the issuing company’s claims–paying ability.
Diane divides $300,000 between two annuities: a deferred annuity with a 10-year term and a hypothetical 5% return, and an immediate annuity with a 10-year term and a hypothetical 3% return. She places $182,148 in the deferred annuity and the remaining $117,852 in the immediate annuity. Over the next 10 years, the immediate annuity is expected to generate $1,138 per month in income. During the same period, the deferred annuity is projected to grow to $300,000 — effectively replacing her principal.
Variable annuities are sold by prospectus, which contains detailed information about investment objectives and risks, as well as charges and expenses. You are encouraged to read the prospectus carefully before you invest or send money to buy a variable annuity contract. The prospectus is available from the insurance company or from your financial professional. Variable annuity subaccounts will fluctuate in value based on market conditions and may be worth more or less than the original amount invested if the annuity is surrendered.
1. CNBC.com, August 14, 2015