Markets ended on a high note Wednesday after suffering dramatic drops early in the morning after Donald Trump’s historic presidential victory. That has some investors wondering what a Trump White House could mean for their portfolios.
During his campaign, Trump proposed major policy changes — from overhauling the tax code, to repealing the Affordable Care Act and renegotiating trade deals — that could have huge implications for businesses and consumers. There could be more market volatility in the near term as investors and economists try to sort through what he might be able to accomplish and how those ideas might affect the economy.
“This is somebody who had never held elective office, so that would create more uncertainty,” says Scott Wren, senior global equity strategist for the Wells Fargo Investment Institute. “Wall Street doesn’t like uncertainty.”
It may be painful to watch the wild swings, which tend to appear after major events like this. But the average investor saving for retirement should probably avoid making any major changes right now, financial advisers say.
Historically, there’s been no major change between how stock markets perform when a Democrat is president vs. when a Republican is in office. A review of the 3,000 largest U.S. stocks by Fidelity Investments found that stock markets gained 12.2 percent on average a year under Democratic presidents, compared with 11.8 percent a year under Republican presidents. That means that trying to shape your portfolio based on who is in the Oval Office is probably a losing game for the typical investor, says John Sweeney, executive vice president of retirement and investing strategies for Fidelity.
It’s still not clear what Trump will be able to accomplish. In reality, he would need to work with Congress before his policies could be implemented, which means they would probably be toned down, says Dana Peterson, a North America economist with Citi Research. For example, his plan to overhaul Obamacare and scale back regulations may be supported by Republican lawmakers. But some of his other ideas, such as his calls for lower tax rates, may be scaled back by conservative lawmakers worried about controlling the government debt, according to Citi. Congress would also moderate Trump’s plans to rework trade deals with China and Mexico to preserve those relationships and avoid higher tariffs on U.S. imports, Peterson says.
But based on what Trump has said so far, there are certain investments and sectors that could be effected more than others. Here’s a look at some of the potential effects investors should be aware of:
Health care stocks. The health care industry is likely to be disrupted as we learn more about Trump’s plan for reforming the Affordable Care Act. Trump has said that under his plan, no one would be required to have insurance, which could have a mixed effect on insurance companies. It’s too early to know whether these changes will happen or whether they would be a net negative or positive for the sector.
As for pharmaceutical companies, they could benefit more from a Trump presidency than they would have if Hillary Clinton had won, Peterson says. Trump is viewed as being in favor of less regulation, while it was expected that Clinton could have tried to crack down on rising drug prices.
Financial firms. Trump has said that he supports reinstating the Glass-Steagall Act, which was repealed in 1999 and which restricted the growth and risk levels of big banks. If he supports policies that call for breaking up big banks, that could be bad news for major financial firms, but it would offer a bonus to regional banks, according to an analysis by the BlackRock Investment Institute.
However, banks could benefit if Trump and some Republicans in Congress are able to undo some of the regulations that have been put in place by the Obama administration. For example, many conservatives have opposed President Obama’s policies to limit the kind of advice that brokers can give to retirement savers. Some lawmakers may try to undo recent rules from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau that made it easier for consumers to sue financial firms. The list goes on, and Trump may offer more guidance about the changes he wants to make over time.
Defense stocks. At campaign events and throughout the debates, Trump has talked about bolstering the military, which could be a positive for defense stocks, says Jeff Carbone, managing partner with Cornerstone Financial Partners, an investment management firm. For example, if he increases military spending, that may boost companies that make weapons, airplanes and other military equipment.
Companies that export goods. Trump would need to work with Congress to modify long-standing trade deals. But if he succeeds in revamping some of the agreements, it could spell losses for companies that export heavily to other countries, Peterson says. Some U.S. goods could become more expensive abroad, based on how policies are adjusted, which could hurt demand, she says.
Energy companies. Trump is in favor of loosening restrictions on the energy industry. That could bode well for coal and gas companies that rely on fossil fuels, Wren says. Trump is in favor of reduced regulations on drilling, which could give oil companies a slight advantage, he says. In contrast, renewable energy companies, such as those that center on solar energy and other environmentally friendly approaches, could be hurt, Wren says.
Bonds. Interest rates have been at rock-bottom levels since the start of the Great Recession, and the uncertainty caused by Trump’s presidential win could lead to an extension of that low-rate period. It was previously expected that the Federal Reserve would raise interest rates in December, but the timing of that rate hike is now being called into question as economists wait for more clarity on Trump’s economic policies, says Michelle Meyer, head of U.S. economics for Bank of America Merrill Lynch.
However, other factors could push bond yields up or down, regardless of what the Fed does. Trump’s plans to boost infrastructure spending and cut taxes could increase government borrowing, Peterson says. If that leads to the issuance of more government bonds, it could cause bond yields to rise. And as they have in the past, other events — such as when Britain voted to exit the European Union — could send bond yields spiraling back down. Savers looking for yield should consider dividend paying stocks, high yield savings account and other strategies for boosting their cash funds.
Gold. The shiny metal rallied during times when it appeared that the election was swinging in Trump’s favor. The price of gold also spiked early Wednesday when it became clear that Trump had won the election, but those gains were pared back as stock markets stabilized. Gold typically gets a boost when stock markets are rocky and investors become more worried about volatility. But as today’s swings show, the metal is also pretty volatile itself, and most advisers say that investors who want to invest in gold should probably keep the holdings to a small portion of their overall portfolio.
But keep in mind that the confusion over how markets will fare means most investors should probably not try to make big bets on specific companies or sectors, financial advisers say. And people who are investing for the very long-term, such as those saving for retirement, should likely stick to their plans, Carbone says. “Once we get beyond the current headlines of the election the fundamentals should take over and the market should be able to move forward,” he says.