The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) staged a strong rally this week following a relief triggered by centrist Emmanuel Macron’s strong lead ahead of far-right candidate Marine Le Pen in the first round of the French presidential election, while worries over geopolitical tensions subsided concurrently.
The optimism is further bolstered by Trump’s proposal for tax cut, promising to bring corporate tax rate down from 35 percent to 15 percent. Nonetheless, the seemingly lack of details in the eagerly anticipated address by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn on Wednesday appeared to disappoint the markets, dragging on US indices’ advance.
Both the DJIA and S&P 500 ended the fortnight 1.9 percent higher to close at 20,981.33 and 2,388.77 respectively. Likewise, Nasdaq closed above 6,000 for the first time ever at a record 6,025.49 on 25 April, moving past the psychologically milestone without much resistance amid upbeat earnings. The tech-heavy index gained 3.6 percent to close at 6,048.94 for the fortnight.
China’s 1Q17 Gross Domestic Product (GDP) came in stronger than the expected 6.8 percent at 6.9 percent year-on-year (y-o-y), however, the Shanghai Composite Index (SHCI) plunged 1.4 percent on 24 April 2017 amid concerns that authorities will be stepping up measures to crack down on leveraged trading. The selloff was the biggest one-day loss since December 2012, and overall SHCI sank 3.7 percent to close at 3,154.66 over the last two weeks. The Hang Seng Index, however, chose to ignore the regulatory crackdown and took on a risk-on appetite instead, by rising 1.5 percent to close at 24,615.13. Meanwhile, Japan’s Nikkei Index jumped 4.2 percent to close at 19,196.74.
In the lion city, Singapore’s 1Q17 GDP grew 2.5 percent y-o-y easing from 2.9 percent in the previous quarter, based on advance estimates released by the Ministry of Trade and Industry on 13 April. In addition, headline inflation in March was at 0.7 percent y-o-y, while core inflation stood at 1.2 percent. Both figures remained unchanged from February’s data, and inflation was mainly driven by increase in prices for private road transport, services and food. The Straits Times Index ended the fortnight 0.2 percent higher at 3,175.44.
For the next two weeks, the outcome of the French presidential election will remain a major issue for investors, with Macron and Le Pen coming to a face-off in the final round on 7 May 2017. A Le Pen victory could prove hugely destabilizing for the region. On the other hand, Federal government operations are currently funded through 28 April 2017. A potential government shutdown this weekend without a new spending bill would warrant some attention.