Traders gather for the opening of Bonanza Creek Energy Inc. as it begins trading on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) May 1. (BRENDAN MCDERMID/REUTERS)
Among Donald Trump’s accomplishments in his first 100 days, even critics may have a hard time quibbling with this one: He’s made most investors better off.
Companies in the S&P 500 index have added nearly $984-billion in market cap since Inauguration Day. Since Election Day, it’s just more than $2-trillion. The Trump 100-day stock rally, a jump of 5.8 per cent, ranks him fifth best among modern day presidents in percentage terms, two behind Obama’s first term. Based on market cap, Mr. Trump is even better, edging out the Bush ‘88 and Obama ’08 terms. Factoring in inflation, Kennedy and Roosevelt still have Trump beat.
But while stocks have certainly risen under Mr. Trump, in many ways the rise has not looked all that in line with Trumponomics. Put another way, it does not appear that Mr. Trump, or his policies, are influencing the market in areas many might expect.
Consider Apple. As a candidate, Mr. Trump threatened to punish the iPhone maker if it didn’t “start building their damn computers and things” in the U.S. In the wake of the San Bernardino shooting, Mr. Trump called for a boycott of Apple if it didn’t unlock the shooter’s phone. And yet, Apple is the No. 1 performer in the Dow Jones Industrial Average since Mr. Trump took office, adding nearly $122-billion in market cap.
In fact, technology stocks in general turned out to be the best performers in Trump’s first 100 days. Silicon Valley was far from pro-Trump, and the president’s anti-immigration stance was seen as a negative for tech recruiting. Some have said that Mr. Trump’s actual policies have been less unfriendly to the tech sector than feared, but being less of a negative is hardly delivering on a campaign promise. Nonetheless, the tech stocks in the S&P 500 have risen nearly $469-billion in market value since Mr. Trump was elected, or nearly 50 per cent of the index’s overall gains.
What’s more, many of the sectors that Mr. Trump championed and said he would revitalize have been lackluster in his first 100 days. Shares of the big automakers have lost $8-billion in market cap. Industrial stocks are up, but by just $66 billion, making up only 6.7 per cent of the Trump 100-day rally. Coal company stocks have mostly fallen. Shares of Arch Coal, for instance, have dropped 4.4 per cent since Mr. Trump’s inauguration.
As for the banks, after attacking them as a candidate, Mr. Trump as a president has said that he would roll back regulations on Wall Street, which would bolster its profits. But banks, too, haven’t been stellar performers in Mr. Trump’s 100-day rally. The S&P 500 Financials Index is up $47-billion, and most of that gain came in the first 50 days. Bank shares were basically flat in the second half of Mr. Trump’s first 100 days. And that’s the pattern for most of the market as well. The powerful Trump rally was more like a peep in the second act.
What’s more, when it comes to the market, Mr. Trump is not even putting putting America first again. While the U.S. stock market did well in his first 100 days, foreign stock markets, particularly of countries that Mr. Trump’s has singled out, have done even better. Major indexes in Hong Kong, Germany, Mexico and Taiwan are all up more than the U.S. stock market.
Mr. Trump, on more than one occasion, has trumpeted the market rise since his election as proof that investors are reacting positively to his policies. But while stocks certainly have risen, how much credit he deserves is less clear.
Stephen Gandel is a Bloomberg Gadfly columnist covering equity markets. He was previously a deputy digital editor for Fortune and the lead author on Time’s economics blog The Curious Capitalist. His previous assignments included covering Wall Street in 1999, the housing market in 2005 and banks in 2008.