Too Bad Trump Has These Other Problems, Because Stock Markets Are Terrific

From the point of view of U.S. equity investors, it will be too bad if President Donald Trump is forced from office because of a lawsuit by a porn star, or for campaign finance violations, or for attempts to obstruct justice, or if he's shown to use his office to enrich himself and his family, or if persuasive evidence emerges that he is something ranging from the dupe to the stooge to the witting agent of the Russian espionage services. Just to name a few.

Because the Trump trade is steamrolling on, as investors show their confidence in the profit-making potential of U.S. public companies. The Dow Jones Industrial Average soared 440 points, or 1.77% today, bolstered by a job figure that showed the U.S. added 313,000 new jobs in February, well above estimates and the biggest increase since mid-2016. Wage growth moderated to 2.6%, below economists' forecasts for a 2.8% gain over the past 12 months. The Nasdaq rose 1.79% to a record. The S&P 500 added 1.74% to its highest since Feb. 1.

The strong report indicates that the Federal Reserve will continue along its path of raising interest rates gradually. Economists expect the central bank to raise rates three times in 2018. A rate increase later this month is deemed by most traders to be a near certainty. No surprises from the Fed generates confidence in stock investors.

The good news about the jobs report, coupled with reports that North Korea is willing to discuss giving up its nuclear weapons, sent a strong buy signal that, for now, is overcoming fears about a trade war precipitated by the President's snap decision to impose tariffs on imported steel and aluminum.

It turns out that the new tariff regime may not be as deleterious as some Chicken Littles expected. Instead of targeting Canada and Mexico, the tariff rules, which haven't actually been written yet, exempt those two countries until the North America Free Trade Agreement is renegotiated. Fears that U.S. makers of stuff ranging from peanut butter and orange juice to Harley-Davidson motorcycles and Jim Beam bourbon may face overseas tariffs of their own have receded, for now, even though there may be efforts by the World Trade Organization to declare the tariffs illegal.

Instead, investors are delighted by a February jobs report that hits the sweet spot of higher-than-expected jobs growth and lower-than-expected wage growth. The average hourly wage rose just 0.1 percent.

It's a nice improvement from the January report, which spooked investors into thinking the Fed may raise rates more than three times this year to cool down inflation. For now, the inflation outlook is straight out of a fairy tale: not too hot, not too cold. As BNP Paribas economists wrote in a note, it's a "Goldilocks economic story of continued strong employment gains amidst moderate inflation pressures."

For stock market investors, especially the 10% of Americans who control about 80% of the stock market's wealth, long may it last, at least until Trump blows up NAFTA. Or, possibly, maybe, until some other little Trumpian problem arises.

Robert Reich Slams President Trump's Tariff Plans

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