Stock market bulls are hoping for a new wave of strong economic data during this week as well as more details of President Donald Trump’s adjustments on corporate tax.
The U.S. Markit Manufacturing PMI as well as the release of the minutes of the latest Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting might draw significant attention. However, the main focus of investors may probably remain on the nation’s new administration and its policy reforms as Donald Trump’s Presidency is proven until now to be driving the stock markets.
Federal Reserve (Fed) Chairwoman Janet Yellen injected confidence in the US economy and indicated an interest rate hike would not be far off. Stocks and the US dollar all surged on the optimistic news with equities hitting four year highs. Asian stocks also rose on the back of the announcement but the real winner on the day was the US Dollar which rose to a four week high as Yellen noted inflation and wage growth are on track – two indicators that the Fed might raise rates throughout the year. Hence the upcoming release of the Fed’s last meeting minutes, held on 01 February, may help traders to better understand the intentions of the U.S. policymakers.
Several investors forecast that the next interest rate increase by the Fed might be decided during June’s meeting, however the likelihood for a rate hike during an earlier Fed meeting has increased following Janet Yellen’s speech.
US stocks closed on Friday with a 4-week straight record close with the S&P 500 gaining an overall of 32.75 points closing at a high of 2,347.51. The Dow Jones Industrial Average also gained by 1.6% and ended the weekly trading session at 20,584. The Nasdaq gained 1.8% closing the week also at a record high of 5,325.38.
Concerns were recently raised about the White House’s plans for a border-adjusted tax which would be used to largely offset the decrease of the corporate tax rate from 35% to 20%. Essentially, the plan is to impose a 20% tax on imports into the U.S. but not on exports. Those in favour of the plan estimate that the U.S. dollar may significantly strengthen against its major peers and so it would balance out inflation due to taxation on imported goods. But those opposed do not believe that the U.S. dollar may move significantly upwards and so the extra costs might be passed to importers and might eventually hurt consumers.
In any case, the border-adjusted tax is an important policy adjustment otherwise it would be a massive task for policymakers to reduce corporation tax from 35% to 20% without worsening the deficit. The border-adjusted tax has not been officially presented and President Donald Trump himself described the matter as “complicated”.
The release of the Fed meeting minutes, expected on Wednesday 22 February at 19:00 GMT, are expected to confirm the policymakers’ intention for a rate hike but there will not be any signals as to when this might happen. The Markit Manufacturing PMI preliminary data are expected on Tuesday 21 February at 14:45 GMT.