Bloomberg News: Actually, the Stock Market Has Barely Moved the Last Two Years Under Trump

October 03, 2019

Article by Sarah Ponczek, Vildana Hajric , and Molly Smith in Bloomberg News

It’s like a gravitational field the S&P 500 can’t get free from, the place to which all rallies must return. And it was back in force Wednesday, eliciting angry notice from President Donald Trump as waves of selling dragged the benchmark within points of where it stood 21 months ago.

As has repeatedly happened in U.S. stocks, a few days of losses just undid weeks and months of progress, depositing the S&P 500 at an all-too-familiar level. Frustrated traders were left to lament that it has taken the better part of two years for the index to advance all of 15 points.

“I’m looking at this thing and my god, it’s like a Tour de France kind of bike ride,” Marvin Loh, global macro strategist at State Street, said by phone. “Massive climbs and great descents -- except these are horrible descents. And then we climb up to the next peak and then we get to ride it down.”

Trump loves touting equity gains more than his predecessors, who were usually wary of taking credit for unpredictable returns largely out of anyone’s control. And while the president’s record remains a solid one by historical standards, with the S&P 500 up almost 43% including dividends since his election victory, on a price basis it’s the same return he could’ve claimed in January 2018. Amid uneven economic data and a two-year trade war, the market hasn’t budged since.

For investors watching day-to-day swings, two years of inertia have been anything but boring. February 2018’s convulsions in volatility markets were followed eight months later by the bull market’s nearest-to-death experience in seven years. The Federal Reserve has done a complete 180, cutting interest rates twice after a series of hikes. Now deteriorating economic data, including the worst manufacturing report in a decade, is reviving recession fears.

To read this fascenating article in full and view the relating charts in Bloomberg News, click here.

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