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The market is giving Trump one more chance, but it's worried

Peter Switzer
28 March 2017

By Peter Switzer

The market looks like it’s giving President Donald Trump one more chance on tax reform but be aware that the collective attitude towards him is getting a little worried.

The S&P 500 index, which is the best gauge of market love or hate for what Donald brings to the US economic table, has been slipping since March 1. Then the index was at 2395.96. Today it’s around 2344, so that’s a 50-point fall, which is a 2% slide.

So the pulling of the healthcare bill by the Administration, because they didn’t have the numbers on Capitol Hill, was a disappointment but it wasn’t seen as a total failure of the President.

The supposition is that Donald will work on his numbers and push the bill later but now he’s focusing on the tax reform play. However, one false move on this huge play and the market could turn tail and run!

On the subject of running, history shows that heading for the hills over the next 30 or so days makes a fair bit of sense. In fact, there is a ‘near’ nursery rhyme that goes “sell in May and go away, come back on St. Legers Day”, which is around mid-September.

I showed my subscribers to the Switzer Super Report this chart below yesterday. It explains why some investors might be wondering whether they should really punt on Donald and his tax reform.

Source: CNBC/ Michael Fuerst, Uni. of Miami 2012

This shows the returns from being in the market over two periods and you can see why going long stocks from November to April has been pretty rewarding! On the other hand, going careful May to October seems pretty rational, given many market crashes have been in September and October.

Right now, the VIX or fear index is at a low 12.53 and it fell 3.39% overnight, so the worry factor remains low, which means the market still has faith in Donald and his plan.

That said, I’m sure there’ll be runaway types (fund managers and big investors) who will take money off the table if this US tax talk doesn’t look promising, especially as May looms.

CNBC leads today with the headline: Dow posts 8-day slide, longest since 2011, as Street weighs tax reform prospects!

Right now, there are enough market players betting that Donald will get a decent tax bill through, but the health bill pulling has raised question marks.

So for now, investors are working out how bad the health care debacle was last week but optimists, such as Kate Warne, investment strategist at Edward Jones, aren’t going negative yet.

"There are definitely mixed views on that,” she said. “This could be a catalyst for Republicans to do a better job with tax reform."

Hope is still springing eternal for Donald but there has been a Trump turnaround on how much the market loves this guy.

"I don't think this is the beginning of a full-blown correction but it's definitely a reversal in market sentiment," said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at First Standard Financial on CNBC.

As I said, one false move and the May runners will be putting on their track shoes.

If you liked this article you'll love the Switzer Report, our newsletter and website for trustees of self-managed super funds. Click here for a FREE trial and to hear more of Peter’s expert commentary and advice.

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