Analysis

Can the stock market rally last?

Stocks have soared in the aftermath of Donald Trump’s victory, but the rise has been mostly based on hope

The smartest insight and analysis, from all perspectives, rounded up from around the web:

"It's been all aboard the Trump Train for global stock markets," said Jonathon Trugman at the New York Post. Defying the conventional wisdom put forth by pundits in the run-up to the presidential election, stocks have soared to record heights in the aftermath of Donald Trump's surprise victory. The Dow Jones industrial average is up nearly 8 percent since Nov. 8, smashing through the 19,000 mark for the first time ever late last month and closing in on 20,000 this week. It's easy to see why. The president-elect has promised to slash tax rates and eliminate regulations across the board, and he has a friendly Congress to help him do it. "Stocks love sustainable economic growth," and Trump's agenda "is the most pro-growth we've seen in generations."

Investors are also "smacking their lips at the prospect of companies' repatriating their overseas cash piles," said The Economist. Trump's plan for a one-time tax "holiday" would permit companies to bring back their offshore profits at a much lower tax rate, allowing them to shower shareholders with generous dividends and stock buybacks. Investors could ultimately receive cash worth as much as 3 percent of the American stock market's total current value — money that's likely to be reinvested right back into the market. The performance of U.S. stocks these past few weeks "has been inspiring," said Mohamed El-Erian at Bloomberg. But it's been mostly based on hope rather than on fundamentals. For the surge to be sustainable, lawmakers need to translate "recent pro-growth announcements" into actual policy, "which the highly polarized U.S. Congress has made notably elusive in recent years."

For some reason, "investors expect all the good things Trump has promised and none of the bad," like a trade war with China, said Edward Luce at the Financial Times. And no one seems to be acknowledging the biggest threat to the Trump boom: higher interest rates. The Fed has signaled its intention to raise interest rates three or four times before 2019. If Trump's massive tax cuts actually materialize, and are paired with billions in new infrastructure spending, the central bank will have little choice but to hike rates even more quickly in order to keep a lid on inflation. That, in turn, will depress stocks. And let's not ignore the surge in the dollar, said Anthony Mirhaydari at The Fiscal Times. The value of the greenback hit a 13-year high in late November on expectations that the Fed would raise interest rates. Although a stronger dollar can be good for consumers, it isn't great for major U.S. companies, since it simultaneously raises prices on American goods overseas and makes U.S. firms' foreign earnings worth less. "To put it plainly: If interest rates and the dollar keep rising, stocks won't be able to follow for very long."

For now at least, Wall Street expects the good times to keep rolling, said James Mackintosh in The Wall Street Journal. Forecasts for the year ahead "are uniformly positive." But investors may not want to put too much stock in analysts gazing into crystal balls. The average strategist hasn't predicted a stock-market drop for the upcoming year since 2000, according to Bloomberg surveys. Meanwhile, "shares fell one year in three." It turns out, "forecasting is easy. Being right is harder."

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