Long and Wrong? The Election Wild Cards That May Stump Investors
(Bloomberg) -- Just days before the U.S. election investors are largely positioned for a surge in risk sentiment under a Blue Wave scenario. For a handful of assets, there’s a chance that they’re completely wrong.
Will a Joe Biden victory trigger an equities rally if the Senate remains Republican? Can Big Tech repeat its 273% ascent under President Donald Trump? Does the Democrats’ plan to shift to renewable energy mean oil’s dead? Bloomberg’s Markets Live team debated these topics and more in a live discussion and came up with alternative views beyond the consensus.
Read More: A Trader’s Guide to Election 2020
- Consensus view: A Biden victory helps risk assets
- Non-consensus view: A Trump win helps risk assets -- but only with a Democratic Senate
The Senate race is key for fiscal stimulus. The gap between aid proposals from the Trump administration and House Democrats is narrow, so a flipped Senate could unlock more than $2 trillion of assistance. That could send the S&P 500 toward 3,650, a two standard deviation move from the index’s 12-month average closing price of 3,137. Beyond that, the next level to watch is 3900, the third standard deviation.
Alternatively, a Trump victory without a GOP Congress could be similar to a Biden victory without a Blue Wave, meaning more delays for federal aid. That would be troubling for equities and commodities. A split government could also influence how the White House deals with China, the European Union and other trading partners -- all of which could introduce risk to markets.
JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s Chief Equity Strategist Dubravko Lakos-Bujas is eyeing the S&P 500 at ~3,900 in an “orderly Trump victory as the most favorable outcome for equities.”
- Consensus view: A Blue Wave will hurt technology stocks, while a Trump win will help them
- Non-consensus view: Big Tech’s dominance is over, regardless of who’s in the Oval Office
While a Blue Wave is considered pro-risk, potential antitrust action alongside rising corporate taxes would weigh on tech makers and suppliers in the U.S. and Europe. Asian tech could be an alternative given the lower valuations, earnings momentum and strong balance sheets, according to Societe Generale strategists.
Among the companies that could entice investors are Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., Tencent Holdings Ltd., Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company and Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd., the biggest tech names on the MSCI Emerging Markets index. The MSCI Asia Pacific Information Technology Index gained 1.5% in October compared with a roughly 1.5% decline in the Nasdaq 100.
Meanwhile, a Trump win would likely bring less regulation and lower corporate taxes from about 21% to 15%. While that could keep Big Tech humming, a Trump second term also presents a double-edged sword. He’s openly attacked Amazon.com Inc. and Facebook Inc. for anticompetitive behavior and could step up his critique.
- Consensus view: A Blue Wave hurts oil, while a Trump victory is crude-positive
- Non-consensus view: The only sure thing for oil is more volatility
In the short term, oil could rally on a Blue Wave, which the market is positioning for (as shown in the chart below). JPMorgan strategists estimate that a Biden win and Democrat Senate could add as much as 15% to crude prices on a combination of dollar weakness and fiscal stimulus. Eventually, however, the market will have to confront Biden’s plan to transition to renewable energy. And most Blue Wave policies could raise U.S. production costs, limiting the growth of shale supply, according to Goldman Sachs.
But these risks will play out over years and decades. Immediately after the election, oil’s more likely to follow broader risk assets.
Trump has been a strong advocate for American oil and has brokered the biggest-ever voluntary output cuts by OPEC members. A second term could boost crude benchmarks, but also introduce more volatility. OPEC members facing their own domestic pressures are less likely to comply with further output cuts. And tough talk on trade and diplomacy -- like Trump’s dealings with China -- could hamper crude’s gains.
Note: This discussion took place on Bloomberg’s Markets Live blog. The observations are those of the bloggers and not intended as investment advice. For more markets analysis, go to MLIV.
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