In the midst of Donald Trump’s campaign upset last night, a rash of late-night futures trading sent the Dow Jones industrial average tumbling — a product of the uncertainty of a close race between two very different presidential candidates.
News of that turmoil was woven into the coverage of the election results, as pundits and market watchers analyzed what the effect of the 800-point drop might mean for the Dow when U.S. markets reopened the next morning.
However, when the sun came up today, Trump was still the president-elect but U.S. markets had settled enough to open flat, and by mid-afternoon, the Dow, the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq were all trending upward by at least one percentage point.
According to Dr. Reid Cummings, director of the Center for Real Estate and Economic Development at the University of South Alabama, the rebound U.S. markets saw in the 24 hours following the election were also reflected in markets across Europe.
“One thing that’s true about any market — financial, stock, bond, real estate or mortgage markets — is that people don’t like uncertainty, and when they’re not sure about something, they get nervous,” Cummings said. “There was a lot of uncertainty around 12 to 1 a.m., and had the Dow opened then, it could have been down more than 775 points, which is significant.”Investors not knowing who the president would be was certainly a factor in some of the overnight market activity, though Cummings said there was still plenty of uncertainty even as Trump pulled ahead in the race.
Cummings said part of that concern was likely fueled by negative reports from recent months — a number of which came from conservative economists and think tanks — predicting Trump’s economic policies would lead to a recession.
Though there could be any number of reasons for the market’s rebound, Cummings pointed to Trump’s 2 a.m. acceptance speech as a point when trading really began to settle down overnight.
The speech surprised many because of its tone, its brief praise for his opponent, Hillary Clinton, and Trump’s desire for the country to come together after a divisive campaign.
“When Trump gave his acceptance speech, and I think most would consider it a graceful, conciliatory speech, there didn’t seem to be any vindictiveness in his attitude or any expression of an opportunity to get even,” Cummings said. “That really helped to signal, ‘It’s over. We won, we’re here and let’s work for the good of everybody.’”
Trump, who campaigned on his business acumen, said he plans to harness America’s “untapped potential.” As a candidate, Trump suggested his plan for the U.S. economy could raise the rate of economic growth, which is currently below 2 percent, to around 4 percent.
“If we do see the kind of growth or movement Trump suggests, you’ll see equities tend to rise and bond markets tend to fall — something we saw a bit of today,” Cummings added. “That can cause inflation to tick up slightly and an increase in interest rates.”
While Cummings said Trump’s effect on the economy would be left to speculation until he actually takes office, he did say that “in general, business tends to like smaller government and less regulation.” If that holds true, he believes a Trump White House coupled with GOP gains in Congress could be “good for business” overall.In port cities like Mobile, Trump’s focus on international trade will likely be something to monitor when he takes office in 2017. However, Cummings said if Trump’s policies play out the way he’s suggested, they may prove to be good for Mobile.
“If Trump does move to make U.S. markets more competitive with others around the world that, according to him, are propped up by anti-American trade agreements, it’s unlikely he would enact policies that penalize U.S. trade,” Cummings said. “If that proves true, it would be good for U.S. import and trade as a component of the overall economy, which should bode well for those in the port business like Mobile.”