Trump’s legal affairs have been a minor insertion in the list of market troubles that have periodically arisen to prevented a stock bull market that entered its 11th year in early March. Others remain, including the president’s trade war with China, worries about Federal Reserve policy and signs growth is slowing globally.
Investors were divided on whether the latest news would fuel lasting gains.
Said Kristina Hooper, chief global market strategist at Invesco: “I don’t think the Mueller report ever really mattered to markets. If anything, it is a slight positive as it illuminates one contributor to economic policy uncertainty — but, to be clear, that is just one of many contributors to uncertainty.”
Trump’s hyping of the China deal failed to boost the market on Friday where that had worked repeatedly in the past. So, maybe the market is ready to be less driven by Trump news and more by economic reality.”
Said Art Hogan, the chief market strategist at National Holdings Corp.: “The Mueller report has been a potential headwind for this market for two years. The report has lived in the bizarre world of always being right around the corner. The potential for the findings of the report to be disruptive to markets have always been a given.”
Stocks have had an explosive run since Trump’s election in November 2016, returning 37 percent with dividends for an annualized rate that is roughly double the historical average. The president’s overhaul of corporate taxes contributed to one of the best years for earnings since the bull market began, with profits for S&P 500 companies rising more than 22 percent in 2018.
Trump celebrated Sunday’s news. “It’s a shame that our country had to go through this,” Trump told reporters before he departed Palm Beach, Florida, to return to the White House. He called Mueller’s probe an “illegal take-down that failed.”
At the same time, the equity benchmark plunged 14 percent in its last full calendar quarter, the worst since 2011, and price turbulence as measured by the Cboe Volatility Index currently sits about 10 percent above its five-year average. Of particular concern to stock bulls was last week’s reception to more dovish emanations from the Federal Reserve. The S&P 500 ended down for the week and had its biggest drop in three months on Friday.
“Th Regardless, Washington is mired in a state of political gridlock which won’t be resolved until the next presidential election.”
Democratic lawmakers have commanded Mueller’s full report as well as the evidence so they can continue their own investigations.