This week has been one of celebration for President Trump and the U.S. economy as stock indexes reached record highs.
The Dow, S&P and Nasdaq hit all-time highs, bolstered by robust corporate earnings, investor confidence and positive indications the trade tensions with China were easing.
The Nasdaq jumped 0.3 percent to 8,457.39 on Tuesday, and the Dow rose as much as 0.4 percent to a new intraday high of 27,560.36.
Although the S&P 500 fluctuated between modest losses and gains, it also came close to a record high.
Other statistics are also positive, unemployment is close to a half century-low of 3.6 percent and wages are growing more now than when Obama was in the White House.
Indeed, job growth in October was strong, coupled with upward revisions in August and September. Wage growth of 3 percent year-over-year is promising, but not strong enough to warrant inflation worries.
However, despite the stock market notching fresh records this week, there are still key concerns facing Trump and the U.S. economy.
Of course, the ongoing impeachment rhetoric continues to dominate headlines, much to Trump’s irritation, as shown by his recent tweet: “All-Time High for Stock Market and all the Fake News wants to talk about is the Impeachment Hoax!”
Furthermore, there is a chance Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping won’t reach a trade agreement, meaning the tensions between the world’s two largest economies, which have been going on for over a year, could continue indefinitely.
That said, China’s Foreign Ministry said on Monday that Trump and Xi are in continuous touch through “various means”, with the U.S. President saying at the end of last week that “phase one” negotiations were going well.
This was echoed by U.S. commerce secretary Wilbur Ross on Sunday, who said he was “quite optimistic” of the initial phase of trade talks.
Although by no means a done deal, the optimism surrounding phase one of the trade negotiations is welcome news.
Indeed, the U.S. economy grew close to 2 percent in the last quarter, in the main driven by perpetual strength of consumer spending, registering 2.9 percent growth.
Consumers tend to rein in their spending unless they’re feeling positive about their economic future, and in order to accumulate consumer spending growth as seen in the last quarter throughout the U.S., it takes more than the top 1 percent of consumers to spend.
Moreover, it mustn’t be overlooked that this progress within the U.S. economy has been happening during the protracted business uncertainty due to the trade dispute with China.
Should the U.S. – Sino tensions come to an end, the degree of uncertainty will be eradicated. If they come to a deal that includes permitting Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei to access U.S. markets for example, while U.S. firms are allowed the same access to consumers in China, the economic advantages from both of the world’s top two economies would be immense.
However, the risk of a global recession remains prevalent, which many analysts define as “uncomfortably high”.
As such, in order to circumvent a slowdown in economic activity, it’s essential that a number of factors stick to their script, one of the main factors of course being the U.S. – China trade war, and ensuring it doesn’t escalate. And there seems positive signs in that area.
That said, the fundamentals are there, and this recent economic data in the U.S. is certainly taking the edge off the 2020 global economic slowdown narrative.
Nigel Green is founder and CEO of deVere Group. One of the world’s largest independent financial advisory organizations, de Vere does business in 100 countries and has more than $12 billion under advisement.
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