August 27, 2018 at 4:47 PM
Global stock markets reacted positively to President Trump’s announcement Monday that the United States and Mexico had agreed to a rewrite of the North American Free Trade Agreement that could lead to trade peace between the two countries.
The Dow Jones industrial average closed above 26,000 for the first time since Feb. 2 and finished the day up 1 percent at 26,049.64.
The Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index and the Nasdaq composite index both struck new highs. The S&P; neared the 2,900 barrier during midday trading, only to retreat a bit and close at 2,896.74. The tech-heavy Nasdaq eclipsed 8,000 for the first time, finishing at 8,017.90, up 0.91 percent.
The Mexican peso climbed on the news of the apparent NAFTA breakthrough.
European markets liked the news, too. The German DAX led with a close that was up 1.16 percent, in part thanks to its critical auto industry. France’s CAC 40 finished up 0.86 percent, Europe’s Stoxx 600 was up 0.52 percent, and London’s FTSE 100 was up 0.19 percent.
Asian stocks were also positive, with the Hong Kong Hang Seng Index up 2.17 percent, the Japanese Nikkei 225 up 0.88 percent and China’s Shanghai Composite up 1.89 percent.
While many people were anxious to hear the deal’s details and whether they would usher in a new era in North American trade, news of the agreement created a sense that Trump had at least called a cease-fire on tariff threats.
“I interpret all of this as a tiny cessation of hostilities, and that’s good news from a global point of view,” said economist Douglas Holtz-Eakin, president of the American Action Forum and former director of the Congressional Budget Office. “That’s what the market is pricing.”
Automobile companies were among the big winners, with General Motors up 4.84 percent and Ford Motor Co. up 3.20 percent. The major European automakers, BMW, Volkswagen, Fiat Chrysler and Daimler, closed higher in Europe’s markets.
Nine of the 11 market sectors gained on Monday. The big winners were companies in the financial services, materials, industrials and information technology sectors, which reflect a confidence in the economy. Utilities and real estate, both defensive sectors, were down Monday.
Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase and Travelers Companies were propelling the Dow’s financial firms, while Caterpillar, DowDuPont, United Technologies and 3M were leading the industrials.
“One of the major risks to the economy and markets going forward is the imposition of tariffs and the breakdown of trade,” said Luke Tilley, chief economist at Wilmington Trust Investment Advisors. “Today’s announcement is a signal that risk might not loom as large as it did yesterday.”
Investors are also feeling good about other news. U.S. stocks last week set a record for the longest-running bull market in its history, fueled by record-low interest rates and dominant technology companies. Apple earlier this month became the first $1 trillion U.S. company as measured by its market cap.
The U.S. economy is booming, with economic growth the best it has been in four years. Companies are reporting record earnings, thanks in part to the tax cuts passed by Republicans in December. And on Friday, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome H. Powell reassured markets when he said that interest rate increases will continue to be gradual.
Even with all the feel-good vibes on Monday, Tilley said that the market may be premature in its celebration of the new NAFTA.
“There’s a whole lot of reasons to believe this deal is not as far along as people might like it to be and that markets are getting ahead of themselves a bit.”