Stocks indexes veered between small gains and losses in early trading Wednesday as Wall Street sized up the implications of Donald Trump’s stunning victory in the U.S. presidential election.
The modest swings marked a reversal from earlier in the morning, when global stock markets roiled after it became clear that Trump had sealed the win over Hillary Clinton.
Markets had been jittery in recent weeks over the prospect of a Trump administration. But conciliatory comments from the president-elect helped global stock markets recover a large chunk of their earlier losses.
On Wall Street, health care sector companies led the gainers, surging 2.8 percent. Investors had feared Clinton would implement curbs on drug pricing increases that could hurt drugmakers and biotechnology companies. Pfizer jumped 8.2 percent, the biggest gain in the Dow Jones industrial average.
Financial stocks were also heading sharply higher. Utilities were down the most, sliding 3.4 percent, followed closely by consumer-focused stocks.
The Dow was up 7 points, or 0.1 percent, to 18,339 as of 10:25 a.m. Eastern Time. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index lost 8 points, or 0.4 percent, to 2,130. The Nasdaq composite index fell 30 points, or 0.6 percent, to 5,162.
Bond prices tumbled, driving up the yield on the 10-year Treasury note to 1.97 percent from 1.86 percent late Tuesday.
Oil prices headed lower. Benchmark U.S. crude was down 18 cents at $44.80 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, was down 14 cents at $45.90 a barrel in London.
Though uncertainty remains over Trump’s trade, immigration and geopolitical policies and what his victory means for the future of globalization, investors appeared somewhat calmed by his victory speech, in which he praised Clinton and urged Americans to “come together as one united people” after a divisive campaign.
“While Trump slightly soothed some concerns in his victory speech, uncertainty remains over what kind of a U.S. he plans to lead,” said Craig Erlam, senior market analyst at OANDA.
In Europe, Germany’s DAX was up 0.5 percent, while France’s CAC-40 gained 0.5 percent. The FTSE 100 index of leading British shares was 0.7 percent higher.
As Trump gained the lead in the electoral vote count, share prices tumbled in Asia, which were open during the election results.
By the time Trump was confirmed the winner and made his speech, financial markets had steadied. The dollar also recouped some ground, while assets that many investors search out at times of uncertainty, such as gold, came off earlier highs.
The price of gold was up $10.20, or 0.8 percent, at $1,285.50 an ounce. In currency markets, the dollar rose to 104.56 yen from 105.05 yen, while the euro weakened to $1.0961 from $1.1016.
One currency that remained heavily sold is the Mexican peso. It was down 9.1 percent as the prospect of a wall along the United States’ southern border — a key campaigning point for Trump — has come one step closer to reality. Trump has insisted that Mexico will pay for the wall. The U.S. currency rose sharply to 20.01 Mexican pesos from 18.68 pesos.
Also potentially impacting the peso is Trump’s threat to rip up trade deals like the North American Free Trade Agreement, a key plank in Mexico’s economic strategy and growth.
“If Trump is able to follow through with these suggestions, Mexican activity will suffer greatly,” said Jane Foley, senior foreign exchange strategist at Rabobank International.
Trump doesn’t formally take the reins of power until January but he will begin the transition to his presidency almost immediately. In the coming weeks, investors will be looking to see if he further tempers some of the rhetoric that polarized American opinion and often spooked investors in financial markets.
One immediate impact of his victory could see the U.S. Federal Reserve opting against an interest rate hike at its next meeting in mid-December — especially if financial markets endure a period of pressure.
“Less chance of a Fed rate hike also helps keep investors smiling at the prospect of cheap money and accommodative global monetary policy stance for a while longer,” said Mike van Dulken, an analyst at Accendo Markets.
Another point of interest will center on the U.S.’s trade relations with China and its impact across Asia. Trump’s victory has raised concerns that the U.S. and China might embark on a trade war of sorts and that protectionism around the world will grow.
Those concerns weighed heavily on Asian stocks. Japan’s Nikkei 225 index, for example, closed 5.4 percent lower, recouping some losses, at 16,251.54. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng closed 2.2 percent lower to 22,415.19 while the main index in Shanghai fell 0.6 percent to 3,128.77.
“Investors will right now be in the process of attempting to differentiate between Trump’s actual policy positions and some of the more outlandish statements made on the campaign trail,” said Michael Levy, an emerging markets investment director at Barings.
South Korea’s trade ministry has already held an emergency meeting to review prospects of U.S. trade policies after the presidential elections, while top officials from Japan’s central bank and finance ministry met to discuss how to cope with the gyrations in financial markets.
For financial markets as a whole, Trump’s victory is the latest manifestation of a backlash against globalization.
Christopher Mahon, Director of Asset Allocation Research at Barings, says Trump’s victory is an example of people believing that inequalities in society are a result of globalization. That belief, he says, was behind the unrest in Greece during that country’s debt crisis over the past few years as well as Britain’s vote in June to leave the European Union.
Mahon says “globalization and the liberal economic consensus is in full retreat” if Trump doesn’t temper his views.
“It is clear that this next president will have a profound effect on global markets,” he said.
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