North American financial markets lost ground during President Donald Trump’s first full weekday in office, as the new U.S. administration signalled that it’s serious about upending the economic status quo.
Monday’s developments included Trump’s formal withdrawal of the U.S. from the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, as well as his comment, made during a breakfast meeting with business leaders, that U.S. companies would face a “substantial border tax” for importing products manufactured overseas.
“I think it’s continuing a trend we’ve seen emerge over recent weeks where the markets have gotten too complacent about Donald Trump and what he was going to do,” said Colin Cieszynski, chief market strategist at CMC Markets.
The good news first, or the bad?
Other comments made by Trump on Monday seemed like winning propositions for Wall Street, including a vow to reduce corporate taxes and repeal regulations on business. But Cieszynski believes traders are more worried about the immediate future than they are optimistic about plans to cut taxes and red tape down the line.
“The benefits won’t show up for a year or more down the road. However, it seems like starting trade disputes could hit as a potential negative much sooner,” he said.
Cieszynski suggested stocks could be in for some wild daily rides as investors try to keep on top of the Trump administration’s unpredictability.
“I think generally we’ll be seeing more intraday volatility as people react to the comments of the day and try to cut through the noise to figure out what he’s saying and what’s most important.”
In New York, the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed down 27.40 points to 19,799.85. The S&P 500 lost 6.11 points to close at 2,265.20, and the Nasdaq shed 2.39 points to close at 5,552.94.
In Toronto, the TSX lost 67.75 to close at 15,480.13, led by declines in the health-care and energy sectors.
Loonie makes gains
The Canadian dollar made gains against the U.S. dollar on Monday, closing up 0.34 U.S. cents at 75.37.
The value of the loonie, which declined in the days preceding the Trump inauguration, was less affected by the new U.S. administration’s protectionist plans, said Karl Schamotta, director of foreign exchange research and strategy with Cambridge Global Payments
“The big factor here is that the Canadian dollar had priced in a renegotiation of NAFTA several months ago when our prime minister decided to open up the negotiations in advance of Trump’s request,” he said.
Also on Monday, Trump adviser Stephen Schwarzman said Canada should not be “enormously worried” about plans to renegotiate the trade deal.
“There is a reasonable level of confidence that Canada will not be tarred with the same brush as Mexico is in these negotiations overall,” said Schamotta.
The March contract for light sweet crude oil lost $0.47 US to close at $52.75 US. Gold was up $10.70 US at $1,215 US per ounce.