October 5, 2020
MARKET RESPONSES TO ELECTION UNCERTAINTY
Barry Gilbert, PhD, CFA, Asset Allocation Strategist, LPL Financial
Nick Pergakis, Analyst, LPL Financial
Speculation has been increasing that the November election results may be delayed or disputed, or both. A contested election might affect financial markets in several ways. Also, the news that President Donald Trump has tested positive for COVID-19 may potentially impact markets as well.
NOTE ON PRESIDENT TRUMP’S COVID-19 DIAGNOSIS
While this Weekly Market Commentary was in production, we learned that President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump had tested positive for COVID-19. First and foremost, we wish the president and first lady a swift and full recovery. Obviously the news adds a layer of uncertainty to an already contentious election cycle.
The immediate market response has been relatively mild so far. US stocks were lower at open the morning of October 2, but some assets that are perceived to be more resilient in the face of a risk-off environment, such as Treasuries, gold, and the Japanese yen, have shown no real sign of added strength early on. The news adds to the election uncertainty, however. Trump will be unable to campaign in person during the quarantine period that he observes—and maybe longer if he exhibits more serious symptoms—which possibly could hurt his reelection chances. On the other hand, the United Kingdom’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson saw his approval rating rise while he was fighting the infection.
From a market perspective, we think it’s better not to speculate on the election impact of the diagnosis. We do know two things: 1) The response to COVID-19 is very different from case to case, which means only time will tell how the virus may affect the president, and 2) the president and first lady will be monitored closely and will have access to some of the best care in the world, which improves the outlook for both of them.