The S&P500 tumbled for a 6th straight day as it undercut 2,120 support and closed at the lowest levels since early July. While there wasn’t a decisive headline driving the 1% midday selloff, most people chalked it up to pre-election jitters. The encouraging thing is we bounced off 2,100 support after briefly violating it. Rather than trigger a tidal-wave of defensive selling, buyers rushed in and we closed well off the midday lows.
This is the largest directional move we’ve seen since September’s rate-hike tantrum and is the longest losing streak in over a year. Is this forewarning us of much worse to come, or did we just pass through the worst of it?
Up to this point, most assumed Hillary would walk away with the election, but last Friday’s reopening of the FBI investigation into Hillary’s email servers gave Trump a small boost over the weekend. While he still faces long odds, closing the gap made people reconsider the prospects of a Trump presidency.
The market prefers Hillary because she is the establishment candidate. We know what we are getting with her and it won’t be much different from what we’ve had over the last eight-years. The market hates uncertainty over all else and it favors Hillary because she is a known quantity.
While we spend a lot of time debating the merits of each candidate, most people give the president way too much credit for influencing the economy and stock market. Four-years ago we went through a multi-week selloff following Obama’s reelection because emotional Romney supporters were dumping their stocks at steep discounts. We bottomed at 1,350 and with the benefit of hindsight, anyone who sold those lows was clearly an idiot. There is no reason to think this time will be any different. Sore losers dump stocks and savvy buyers snap up the discounts.
A big part of what pulled us down over the last six-sessions is the risk premium associated with an uncertain outcome next week. No matter who wins, that risk evaporates Wednesday morning once the result is conclusive. Removing that risk is bullish, but that is only one component of what will affect prices Wednesday.
A Hillary win is largely priced in and will produce a relatively modest reaction. A Trump win is definitely not priced in and will cause larger reaction. Today’s selloff definitely tells us which direction it will be. But even that will get priced in relatively quickly and the market will go about its business just like it did after both of Obama’s elections and every other election before that.
Many stock owners will trade emotionally next Wednesday and there will be a lot of profits waiting for those who keep their composure. Prices will bounce pretty quickly following a Hillary win because that is the expected outcome. If Trump wins, wait a few more days for the emotional selling to subside before buying the dip.
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Jani Ziedins (pronounced Ya-nee) is a full-time investor and writer who has successfully traded stocks and options for more than a decade. He earned a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from the Colorado School of Mines and an MBA and M.S. Marketing from the University of Colorado Denver. His prior professional experience includes manufacturing engineering at Fortune 500 companies, structural engineering, small business consultant, collegiate instructor, and managing investment real estate. He is now fortunate enough to trade full-time from home, affording him the luxury of spending extra time with his wife and two young children.