Wall Street's post-election jubilation will be tested once Donald Trump takes office and Americans get a clearer picture of his administration's actual policies on taxes, interest rates, regulation and trade.
Fact is, investors are euphoric over brash campaign promises that haven't been kept yet.
Trump already is backing away from promises that were highly impractical to begin with. Notably, it turns out that Mexico won't pay for the border wall; our friends South of the Border will just be billed for it (good luck with that). Indeed, an undercurrent of growing investor nervousness is reflected by the increase last week in activity in options markets used largely for hedging stocks.
Nonetheless, one bullish trend seems to enjoy sustainable momentum: the upward trajectory of bank stocks. Resilient economic growth, falling unemployment, rising wages and home prices, a recovering energy patch, and tightening monetary policy all add up to healthy earnings and revenue for the financial services sector.
The benchmark iShares US Financials ETF (IYF) - Get iShares U.S. Financials ETF Report rose 17% in full-year 2016, compared to 9.5% for the S&P 500 (SPY) - Get SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust Report . Year to date, the IYF has gained 1.7% compared to 1% for the S&P 500.
This past week, the Dow Jones Industrial Average came within one point of 20,000, a technically meaningless but psychologically powerful threshold. The "Trump rally" has somewhat faded but it could get new juice from the quarterly earnings results of money center banks scheduled for Friday. Their report cards are expected to be strong, but that also means their shares could take a hit if there's a whiff of disappointment in the numbers.
Another tailwind for bank stocks is Trump's determination to gut banking regulations, especially the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. It also bodes well for the industry that the president-elect has chosen top banking executives for key positions in his administration. The fact that Trump demonized these "globalist bankers" and promised to crack down on them is either forgotten or written off as campaign rhetoric.
Here are the key events for investors to watch in the week ahead:
Tuesday: President Barack Obama delivers his farewell speech in his hometown of Chicago. He'll probably comment on the condition of the economy during his tenure.
Wednesday: Trump is scheduled to give his first post-election press conference in Manhattan. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee also will begin hearings on the nomination of former Exxon Mobil (XOM) - Get Exxon Mobil Corporation Report CEO Rex Tillerson to be the next Secretary of State. Quarterly earnings are due from Lamb Weston (LW) - Get Lamb Weston Holdings, Inc. Report , KB Home (KBH) - Get KB Home Report , and Progress Software (PRGS) - Get Progress Software Corporation Report .
Friday: It's a big day for banks, with quarterly earnings due from JPMorgan Chase (JPM) - Get JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM) Report , Bank of America (BAC) - Get Bank of America Corp Report , Wells Fargo (WFC) - Get Wells Fargo & Company Report , BlackRock (BLK) - Get BlackRock, Inc. Report , First Horizon (FHN) - Get First Horizon National Corporation Report , PNC Financial Services (PNC) - Get PNC Financial Services Group, Inc. Report , and FirstRepublic Bank (FRC) - Get First Republic Bank Report . Most of these banks are expected by analysts to post year-over-year growth in earnings.
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Holiday spending also will be under scrutiny, when the Commerce Department reports data on December retail sales.
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John Persinos is an analyst with Investing Daily. At the time of publication, he owned stock in Wells Fargo.