The Dow, S&P 500, Nasdaq and Russell 2000 reached new highs on Monday.
Investors are bustling with excitement and clearly believe that both large multinational blue chip companies and smaller companies that do most of their business in the U.S. will continue to thrive.
Is this a Donald Trump rally? Or the Janet Yellen rally?
Some strategists see Trump’s incentive plans and talk of killing many tough regulations as reasons why inventories are growing enormously.
Or perhaps this is better characterized as a sequel to the Barack Obama rally?
You could argue that POTUS 44 sent POTUS 45 with a pretty good hand.
The solid labor market and overall economy that Trump inherited may be the reason why consumers and businesses are so secure.
But investors (and financial journalists) are often quicker to give the president more credit – and guilt – than they probably deserve to work on the stock market.
RBC strategist Jonathan Golub pointed this out in a report Monday, aptly titled “Message to the Market: It’s Not All About Donald.”
Related: Trump is not killing the bull market
Golub noted that the S&P 500 had risen by almost 7% from the end of June to election day – a time when most polls predicted Hillary Clinton would be the next president.
But stocks have continued to rise since then, rising another 8% since Trump pulled off a troubled (at least on the mainstream media and Wall Street) victory.
You can’t have both ways. There is no point in suggesting that stocks are gathering because investors believed Trump would lose and that they continued to gather because Trump did not lose.
Bond yields have also been on the rise since Trump won, a phenomenon that many investors attribute to the likelihood of stimulus by the president and the Republican Congress.
Yet Golub points out that yields to the 10-year U.S. coffers are on the rise over the summer as well.
Of course, many investors expected an incentive from Clinton as well.
Yet once again, many investors argue that Trump is a catalyst for something that happened not only before he was elected, but happened because many thought he would lose.
Related: Stocks avoided a 1% dive for an unusually long period
It is therefore strange that Trump is cited as the main reason for the market rally that began months before anyone felt they could win.
What’s really going on? One constant in the last few months is the Federal Reserve.
That. markets react to Washington. But they pay more attention to Janet Yellen than the White House.
The Fed made it clear before the election that it is likely to raise interest rates in December and do so several more times in 2017, regardless of who wins the race for president.
The good news for investors is that the U.S. economy seems to be growing steadily, but there seems to be no danger of overheating.
Related: Here’s why the world’s biggest money manager is worried
The latest business report showed that wages were growing at a decent rate of 2.5% per year. But that’s not nearly close enough to spark fears of accelerated inflation and force the Fed to aggressively raise rates.
Even if Yellen and the Fed increase three times this year, they’ll probably only do it a quarter each time. That would push the Fed’s key short-term rate to range from 1.25% to 1.5%.
It is still extremely small. At that level, stocks would still be more attractive than bonds. Corporate earnings should be able to grow steadily on a healthy track. And consumers would probably continue to spend.
So investors would be wise to follow Yellen closely, not just focus on the president,
With that in mind, Yellen will be ready to testify before Congress on Tuesday and Wednesday. And what she says about the timing and magnitude of future speed increases could turn into continuing to hold the set full steam ahead – or stop it dead in its tracks.
CNNMoney (New York) First published February 13, 2017 at 12:30 pm ET
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