Following dire warnings of a market slump if Donald Trump won the election, precisely the opposite happened and US indices have shot even further upward. So much so in fact, the question has to be asked as to how much more upside is left in the tank in the short run.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average hit 19,000 for the first time in history this week, while the S&P 500 is riding relatively high as well at 2200 and the Nasdaq 100 has leapt nearly 30% from around 3200 at the start of this year, to 4400. Smaller companies have made the best post-Trump agains, with the Russell 3000 ex-S&P 500 index up 18% in euro terms over the past couple of weeks.
There are many reasons to like US equities of course, the question is always not whether you should like it as an asset class and invest, but how much. Working out whether a big overweight to US equities is smart is by no means an easy call.
While the collective appeal of a large proportion of the world’s the biggest and best companies is clear there are a few clouds on the horizon, particularly a monetary policy shaped one. An unexpectedly aggressive Federal Reserve could really spook markets. While this does seem to be unlikely for as long as Janet Yellen is there, the new political landscape across the Atlantic means all bets made before the election should be considered in a different light.
It could also be argued that the appeal of US equities is as much about the lack of appeal shown by other asset classes as it is about the real performance and fundamentals of the companies that form the major indices.
Virtually all other equities markets look cheap by comparison, but a majority of investors seem to think they are cheap for a reason and are reticent about taking what they see as a gamble.
The fabled US infrastructure boom which many expect to commence imminently is another thing that is muddying the waters. President elect Trump’s administration is expected to spend some $1 trillion on infrastructure projects. This is an eye-catching figure and has played a significant role in the asset class’s current popularity.
Hillary Clinton had also indicated support for infrastructure spending though so this theme is long in the tooth rather than something that sprung up on 9th November, and could therefore be priced in to the asset class already on some level.