Brandon Von Feldt, CFA
This week’s chart shows the cumulative S&P 500 return and 10-year Treasury yields through January 21st. The S&P 500 is up over 3% year-to-date despite impeachment proceedings and geopolitical tensions with Iran. We investigate why equity markets have remained strong through a seemingly difficult start to an election year.
Impeachment proceedings allege that Trump interfered in the coming 2020 election by holding back millions of dollars of military aid to Ukraine in exchange for them launching an investigation into Joe Biden. The market seems relatively unphased, however, as Republicans control a majority in the Senate of 53 to 47. A two-thirds majority (67 senators) is required to convict Trump and remove him from office. This seems unlikely as evidence remains thin and he retains backing from the Republican party.
Iran has been another point of conflict early this year as the U.S. killed Qassem Soleimani as a result of his alleged targeting of U.S. embassies. Iran then responded by firing missiles at U.S. targets in Iraq. It is widely viewed that Iran is looking to avoid a head-on conflict with the U.S. as economic sanctions are harming the Iranian economy. As the direct conflict seems to have abated and Iran’s economy is struggling, the market seems to view this as a non-event.
Rates have remained low and the economy is growing. Though there seems to have been a few bumps in the road, the S&P 500 continues to march higher. Uncertainties remain, however, as a surprise verdict from the impeachment trials or newly discovered coronavirus could upset the markets moving forward. Going forward, investors will look for positive earnings and economic growth — both domestically and abroad — to support further equity market gains in 2020.
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