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World Week Ahead: President Trump takes office

Monday 23rd January 2017

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US President Donald Trump will be closely watched for details on his plans to accelerate economic growth, principally by easing taxes and regulation.

Wall Street rose on Friday, when Trump took the oath of office and delivered a nationalist and populist inauguration address, as did US Treasuries and gold.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.4 percent, while both the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index and the Nasdaq Composite Index added 0.3 percent.

For the week, shortened to four days by a US holiday last Monday, the S&P 500 declined 0.15 percent. 

Wall Street has stalled its approach of fresh record highs. 

"Our models do continue to show that weakness may be approaching in the short term, but stay flexible, because it seems 'the inauguration will be a top' theory has picked up steam across the investment landscape, and it would be so like Mr Market to surprise everyone by rising once again over the next few days," Jeffrey Saut, chief market strategist at Raymond James, wrote in an Inauguration Day note to clients, according to CNBC.

"Dow 20,000 and the recent highs in the S&P 500 are just sitting there looking attractive, so this could very well be a case where the market rallies briefly, hits those targets, and then falls,” Saut added. “So stay alert, because volatility may be about to welcome Donald Trump to the highest office in the land.”

Others disagree. 

The stock market rally since the November election, spurred by Trump’s promises to ease regulations and up spending, will come to a halt, George Soros, the chairman of Soros Fund Management, told Bloomberg.

"Uncertainty is at a peak, and actually uncertainty is the enemy of long-term investment," Soros said. "I don’t think the markets are going to do very well. Right now they’re still celebrating. But when reality comes, it will prevail."

In the US, this week offers reports on the PMI manufacturing index, existing home sales, and the Richmond Fed manufacturing index, due Tuesday; the FHFA house price index, due Wednesday; international trade in goods, weekly jobless claims, Chicago Fed national activity index, PMI services, new home sales, and leading indicators, due Thursday; as well as durable goods orders, GDP, and consumer sentiment, due Friday. 

Friday’s report is expected to show that the US economy grew at an annualised rate of 2.2 percent in the final quarter of 2016, down from the 3.5 percent of third quarter, according to a Reuters poll.

"We're seeing a lot of momentum in some areas of the economy," Laura Rosner, economist at BNP Paribas, told Reuters. "It's a bit of a step down, but is still very healthy and really should support expectations for further growth and expansion."

"It's an important number but at the same time markets are focused on the outlook, particularly given all the potential policy changes,” Rosner noted.

Trump is targeting annual economic growth of 4 percent, according to the White House website on a page titled 'Bringing Back Jobs And Growth'.

“To get the economy back on track, President Trump has outlined a bold plan to create 25 million new American jobs in the next decade and return to 4 percent annual economic growth,” it says.

It also includes renegotiating existing trade deals, and “taking a tough stance” on future ones.

"Folks are potentially underestimating the degree to which Trump is serious about real reform on trade and immigration," Jon Adams, senior investment strategist at BMO Global Asset Management, told Reuters. "Investors, in general, are hopeful Trump will take a more pragmatic approach on those issues."

In Europe, the Stoxx 600 Index edged lower on Friday, closing marginally weaker from the previous day.

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