Investors refuse to gamble on Trump

Poker hand

With President-elect Donald Trump keeping his cards close to his chest, many investors are biding their time to see how markets will react to his Friday inauguration and subsequent policy announcements, according to one fund manager.

Instreet managing director George Lucas says while Mr Trump’s recent media conference was largely empty of policy, it signalled his unpredictability.

“The only real impact his speech had was on the pharmaceutical industry, when he came down hard on the sector and triggered big losses for healthcare and biotech stocks,” Mr Lucas said.

After Mr Trump suggested that his administration would slash the amount the government would pay for pharmaceuticals, some biotech ETFs plummeted as much as 4 per cent.

Such unpredictability, coupled with what his election did to global stock markets, has seen investors become wary of making any moves before 20 January.

“Once the inauguration is out of the way, these promises could help the markets return to the upward trajectory that they started in November last year,” Mr Lucas said.

“This will likely be led by growth-focused assets and, if approved, Trump’s tax-cut policies that could give many US companies a 20 per cent earnings growth boost (after tax) if passed.”

Investor inaction has also caused the US dollar to plateau following its recent drive upwards, although that is likely to only be momentary.

“Once the inauguration is over, we expect the USD to continue its recent rally as the divergence of the US economy from Europe and Japan will drive the greenback’s strength,” Mr Lucas said.

“In Australia, our dollar is less driven by the interest differential and more by investor appetite for risk, commodity prices, China’s growth and our own growth. The AUD should hold up well in the current environment of improving commodity prices and China.”

Meanwhile, while policy detail and shape remain unknown, AllianceBernstein’s US economist Joseph Carson said investors can make some fair assumptions.

“It’s a relatively safe bet that the growth rate of government spending will be faster over the near term [and] it’s the rate of change in nominal government spending that’s critical in assessing the outlook for economic growth, inflation and interest rates,” Mr Carson said.

In short, while many are predicting an inflationary period to follow Friday’s inauguration, accelerated US economic growth and a positive business environment, Mr Carson said a Trump administration will prove a distinctive break from recent policy.

“It’s going to be a new approach and a different ride.”

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