What sell-off? In a feat that has not been accomplished in more than a week, the S&P 500 on Wednesday notched a fresh record closing high.
The S&P 500 gained 0.25 per cent to 2,404, the Dow Jones Industrial Average added 0.36 per cent to 21,012.4, and the Nasdaq Composite gained 0.44 per cent to 6,163.
Last week, equities markets took a blow from rising concern over the political fortunes of US President Donald Trump.
The former businessman’s election last year helped stoke sharp gains for equities on expectations that his policies will support corporate America. That enthusiasm has ebbed and flowed as Mr Trump has struggled to dig-out of numerous scandals.
Still, after Wednesday’s gains, the most recent bout of selling has been entirely reversed and then some. The S&P 500 index is up 7.4 per cent for the year.
Investors on Wednesday parsed through minutes from the Federal Reserve’s May meeting, which set the table for next month’s meeting, which could see it raise rates for the second time this year. Investors interpreted the news as dovish on margin, however, with the US dollar slipping 0.26 per cent against a basket of six peers.
The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note fell 0.0298 per cent to 2.2502 per cent.
Investors will keep a close eye on US politics next week as US President Donald Trump’s first foreign trip coincides with a growing White House scandal at home.
Here’s what to watch in the coming days.
Donald Trump kicks off his first overseas visit since becoming US president by travelling to Saudi Arabia at the invitation of Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz this weekend. Mr Trump is set to agree to a $10bn weapons sale to Saudi Arabia as the US seeks to boost business and diplomatic ties with Riyadh.
The nine-day tour will also see Mr Trump visit Israel and continue on to Rome before heading to a Nato summit in Brussels. The meeting comes as the president’s attempts to give Nato a more formal role in the anti-Isis coalition has faced resistance from France and Germany. Mr Trump will also attend a G-7 meeting in Sicily.
The overseas trip comes with Mr Trump under siege at home following revelations that he pressed James Comey, the FBI director who was abruptly dismissed last week, to drop a probe into the Trump administration’s ties with Russia. Mr Comey has been invited to testify before Congress on Wednesday.
Further complicating matters, new Russia claims were published just after Mr Trump departed Washington on Friday, casting more clouds over the trip even as it got underway.
U.S. President Donald Trump disclosed highly classified information to the Russian foreign minister about a planned Islamic State operation during their meeting last week, two U.S. officials with knowledge of the situation said on Monday.
The intelligence shared at the meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak, was supplied by a U.S. ally in the fight against the militant group, both officials said.
The White House said the allegations, first reported by the Washington Post, were not true.
“The story that came out tonight as reported is false,” H.R. McMaster, Trump’s national security adviser, told reporters at the White House, adding that the two men reviewed a range of common threats including to civil aviation.
“At no time were intelligence sources or methods discussed. The president did not disclose any military operations that were not already publicly known. … I was in the room. It didn’t happen,” he said.
The White House also released a statement from Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who said the meeting focused on counterterrorism, and from deputy national security adviser Dina Powell, who said the Post story was false.
Markets had already reacted positively to the results of the first round of the Presidential election (on Sunday. 23 April)
We believe a Macron presidency has been embedded in market pricing since the first-round results were announced on April 23, we do not expect his victory in today’s run-off to have a significant impact on markets from tomorrow
GS add the next step is the legislative elections:
Macron will need to now obtain a parliamentary majority in the forthcoming legislative elections if he is to implement the programme he set out in his election manifesto
The first and the second round of these elections will take place on 11 and 18 June 2017
Note, the legislative elections are a 2-round process also, with 577 members of the National Assembly up for election.
In a rare comment on the deteriorating North Korean situation, outspoken Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte urged the US to show restraint after North Korea’s latest missile test and to avoid playing into the hands of leader Kim Jong Un, who “wants to end the world“. The notoriously blunt Duterte said on Saturday that the Southeast Asia region was extremely worried about tensions between the United States and North Korea, and said one misstep would be a “catastrophe” and Asia would be the first victim of a nuclear war.
“There seems to be two countries playing with their toys and those toys are not really to entertain,” the president said quoted by Reuters during a news conference after the ASEAN summit in Manila, referring to Washington and Pyongyang. “One miscalculation of a missile, whether or not a nuclear warhead or an ordinary bomb, one explosion there that would hit somebody would cause a catastrophe.”
Duterte also warned the United States, Japan, South Korea and China that they are sparring with a man who was excited about the prospect of firing missiles. Duterte’s speech, which was delivered in his capacity as chairman of ASEAN, was due to speak by telephone to U.S. President Donald Trump later on Saturday. He said he would urge Trump not to get into a confrontation with Kim.
“You know that they are playing with somebody who relishes letting go of missiles and everything. I would not want to go into his (Kim’s) mind because I really do not know what’s inside but he’s putting mother earth, the planet to an edge.“
Ahead of Trump’s much anticipated tax announcement on Wednesday, the WSJ reports that the president has ordered his (mostly ex-Goldman) White House aides to accelerate efforts to create a tax plan “slashing the corporate rate to 15% and prioritizing cuts in tax rates over an attempt to not increase the deficit” which means that without an offsetting source of revenue, Trump is about to unleash the debt spigots, a proposal which will face fierce pushback from conservatives as it is nothing more than a continuation of the status quo under the Obama administration, and may well be DOA.
The WSJ adds that during an Oval Office meeting last week, “Trump told staff he wants a massive tax cut to sell to the American people” and that it was “less important to him if the plan loses revenue.”
Hoping to add a sense of dramatic urgency – after all his 100 day deadline hits on Saturday – Trump told his team to “get it done,” in time to release a plan by Wednesday.
Translation: Trump’s massive tax cut will be funded by debt, and as a result, will be at best temporary as it will be in breach of the revenue constraints in the reconciliation process; at worst it will never happen as it will now require Democrat votes.
Investors breathed a sigh of relief following the first-place showing of centrist and pro-European Union candidate Emmanuel Macron in the first round of France’s presidential elections Sunday, sending the Euro to a five-month high relative to the dollar. Populist Marine Le Pen ranked second in the voting.
Why it matters: The results make it more likely that Macron will be France’s next president, keeping France in the EU. That should have a positive impact on both French stocks and the U.S. economy.
Paris rising: High Frequency Economics’ Carl Weinberg predicts that French stocks will rally in trading Monday, and that interest rates on French government debt will fall. France isn’t out of the woods, however. Weinberg writes that Macron will have a tough time corralling a divided Parliament to implement pro-growth reforms.
Domestic affairs: A Blackrock Investment Institute note to clients calls Macron a “business friendly” candidate that will not get in the way of Europe’s improving economy. The U.S. economy has seen the benefits of faster growth in Europe—political stability across the Atlantic is good for business here.
Caveat: David Zahn of Franklin Templeton Investments warns that “it’s not a done deal yet,” and that the push and pull of a high profile election will cause “markets to remain volatile in the run-up to the final round of voting on May 7 and potentially even beyond.”
The prime minister added the Iranian deal should be reviewed or revoked.
“There’s no question that the deal with Iran, which paves the way to eventual Iranian acquisition of the critical elements of nuclear bombs and nuclear arsenal, something we don’t accept and never signed on the deal and we won’t let happen,” Netanyahu said Friday.
“My position vis-a-vis the deal with Iran… repeal or replace,” Netanyahu said, adding that Washington should not let Tehran “have the best of all world.”
The relations between Israel and Iran have been strained since the Iranian Revolution in the late 1970s. The ties are overshadowed by a number of issues, including Tehran’s nuclear and missile programs accompanied by controversial anti-Israeli statements of high-ranking Iranian officials, such as former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
As pressure mounts on Trump to post some victories within the totally arbitrary window of the “First 100 Days” of his administration, the President is expected to join Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin later this afternoon to sign a combination of executive orders and memos targeting the reduction of tax regulations and certain components of Dodd-Frank.
Per a statement from the White House, one of Trump’s new executive orders will seek to undo tax rules put in place in the last year of Obama’s presidency that were designed to limit so-called ‘corporate inversions’ which allows U.S. traded companies to recognize income in lower cost countries like Ireland. Per Bloomberg:
Under President Barack Obama, Treasury sought to rein in U.S. companies’ attempts to shift their profit offshore by proposing rules that would curb so-called “earnings stripping” and inversions — mergers in which U.S. companies transfer their tax address overseas to low-tax countries like Ireland to cut their tax bills.
Some of those rules, first proposed in April 2016, sought to restrict lending among subsidiaries of the same corporate parent, a technique that can create income in low-tax countries and tax-deductible interest payments in the U.S. The proposed rules met a barrage of criticism from corporations and tax lawyers, who complained that they went too far by banning common, everyday cash-management practices that have nothing to do with tax avoidance.
Amid the criticism, Treasury last October softened the proposed rules to allow cash pooling, a common corporate money-management technique in which excess cash in subsidiaries is swept daily into a single pool. It also delayed a related proposal, which would require companies to extensively document their related-party lending, until Jan. 1, 2018.
It appears that if you want to be liked by the American public, go to war. After a non-stop plunge to record low ratings for a new president, Rasmussen’s most recent data shows President Trump’s favorability surging to 2-month highs since he started rattling sabres around the world.
The Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll for Monday shows that 50% of Likely U.S. Voters approve of President Trump’s job performance. Fifty percent (50%) disapprove. This is the first time the president’s overall approval rating has been back in the 50s in nearly a month. Just after his inauguration, Trump’s job approval peaked at 59% and remained in the 50s every day until early March. It’s gone as low as 42% since then. The latest figures for Trump include 30% who Strongly Approve of the way Trump is performing and 39% who Strongly Disapprove. This gives him a Presidential Approval Index rating of -9.