11/5/2020 11:00:00 PM

Market Watch Episode 48: US Election Special

Wall Street surges on Biden hopes

Despite the narrow Biden win and potentially long legal fight being viewed as a nightmare scenario by many Americans, Wall Street has already popped the champagne.

US markets have surged this week with their biggest rally since the start of the pandemic.

The tech heavy Nasdaq index has jumped almost 10 per cent for the week and the S&P 500 is up almost five pent cent.

The exuberance of the past few days is based on hopes for a split result: a Joe Biden White house and Republican senate.

"This is what we were told is the nightmare scenario for markets," said Pie Funds chief executive Mike Taylor. "But here we wake up to a situation where markets are up."

Taylor said he still expected significant volatility as markets digested a victory claim for Biden as the Trump camp calls for a recount and possible court action.

"However, I think we need to step back a bit and see: we're in a bull market here. [They] were probably going to rally regardless of what the outcome was."

In fact a Republican-controlled Senate and Biden in the White House might be a win-win for markets, Taylor said.

That meant it would be hard for Biden to push through his mega-stimulus plan, which might have pushed up inflation - and potentially interest rates.

So there had been a fall in the 10-year interest rates.

"But then we also saw a big rise in tech [stocks]," Taylor said. "Potentially that's coming from Biden's stance on a lockdown. If he locks down the US that's going to be a huge boom for tech companies."

Traditionally, there was also a view that Republicans meant lower taxes and Democrats higher taxes, so markets tended to favour Republican presidents.

But it currently looked like even if Biden wins he wouldn't be able to repeal the Trump tax cuts or roll back some of the pro-business policies of the past few years.

Meanwhile we might actually see a more measured, conciliatory response to China, de-escalating the trade war, Taylor said.

While the contested result did raise the risk of social unrest in the US markets were generally good at looking through that, he said.

Issues like the economy, US Fed and interest rates always had more impact than what was happening in the White House, he said.

On the economic front, Biden might actually be in a position to inherit some positive events by the time he took office in January.

"What I think Biden will have going in his favour is a Covid vaccine, " Taylor said. "By all estimates we'll [see] a vaccine from one of the key pharmaceutical companies by Christmas."

While that wouldn't solve the pandemic issue immediately it would provide a significant boost for economic sentiment and the President.

"I think for markets, for investors and for the general public there will be a great sense of relief."

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- The Market Watch video series is produced in association with Pie Funds

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