Some political pundits warned of market turmoil if Donald Trump made it to the White House. But Wall Street has enjoyed a year for the record books in 2017.
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The Dow Jones Industrial Average has set 71 new records at the closing bell, the best one-year performance for the blue-chip index. In another first, the Dow has gained more than 5,000 points since the start of 2017. The broader S&P 500 and the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite have also mounted record runs.
Stocks have been on a tear going back to Election Day, reflecting investors’ optimism over the U.S. economy, tax cuts and the broader Trump agenda. The Dow had its strongest first year post-Election Day since 1945, soaring 28.5%. Based on the Wilshire 5000, U.S. stocks have gained approximately $6.6 trillion in value since Trump’s victory.
The market viewed Republican control of the White House and both chambers of Congress as a favorable outcome that would end the legislative logjam in D.C., according to John Lynch, chief investment strategist for LPL Financial. Trump’s agenda, mainly tax reform and cuts to business regulations, has lifted business confidence. Meanwhile, economic growth has accelerated. GDP has expanded more than 3% in back-to-back quarters, and economic growth of 3.2% in the third quarter marked a three-year high. The New York Federal Reserve’s estimates call for the U.S. economy to extend its streak in the fourth quarter.
Robust corporate earnings have also fueled the market’s gains this year. Companies in the S&P 500 reported profit growth of 9.8% in the third quarter, according to FactSet. Analysts see similar growth coming in 2018.
Lynch said market gains next year will likely require policy achievements in Washington, as investors look for the Trump administration to follow through on its economic agenda. However, U.S. and global growth are positive indicators as Wall Street prepares for 2018.
“There are a number of reasons to suggest that stocks may outperform the presidential cycle pattern. Economic growth is steadily improving in the U.S. and abroad, inflation remains well contained, monetary policy — though tighter — is still accommodative, and earnings are growing solidly across the globe,” Lynch wrote in a note to clients.
Alexandra Coupe, associate director for PAAMCO, also said U.S. equities “are likely to hinge on the successful implementation of fiscal and monetary policy” in 2018.
With the final day of trading in the books, the Dow gained 25.2% in 2017. The S&P 500 was up 19.5% on the year, and the Nasdaq surged 28.2%.
The top performer in the S&P 500 this year is Invisalign maker Align Technology (NASDAQ:ALGN), which has advanced around 135% since the end of 2016. Utility company NRG Energy (NYSE:NRG) is a close second, posting a 131% gain on the year. Wynn Resorts (NASDAQ:WYNN), Boeing (NYSE:BA), PayPal (NASDAQ:PYPL), Nvidia (NASDAQ:NVDA), Activision Blizzard (NASDAQ:ATVI) and Caterpillar (NYSE:CAT) are all among the 20 best-performing stocks in 2017.