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What does the election mean for macro-markets?

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The election of Donald Trump as US president is the biggest shock to markets since Brexit.

It is all the more of a surprise given that, as with the UK's vote in June, the outcome was so unexpected, with opinion polls showing steady but slight leads for Hillary Clinton right up to the end.

What reactions might we see?

Bumpy ride

The immediate aftermath is likely to be bumpy both for the dollar and US stock markets.

As Trump closed in on the 270 electoral college votes needed to secure the presidency in the early hours of the morning, the dollar, the Mexican peso, and crude oil all plunged.

US stock futures tumbled by nearly 5%, likely wiping trillions of dollars of value off global financial markets.

Traditional safe havens such as sovereign bonds, the Japanese yen, and gold all rallied.

However, as the day progressed stock markets rallied with rises in biotech and defence company, shares more than offsetting falls in those for healthcare companies.

This would appear to reflect the promises made on the campaign trail by candidate Trump to strengthen America's military and undo Obamacare.

The key outlook will, perhaps, be for increased volatility rather than outright decline, and for a change in the patterns of stock market growth.

Reserve-currency status to support dollar

The dollar's reserve currency status will likely shield the greenback from a slump comparable with the pound's post-Brexit.

But despite the day's recovery, some downward movement can be expected which will make dollar denominated imports and commodities traded in dollars cheaper for the US's trading partners.

Such uncertainty is likely to see the Federal Reserve hold the Fed Funds rate at 0.25-0.50 per cent at its meeting in December.

This would mark the latest in a series of delays of long promised monetary tightening from the Fed. Indeed, given the positive relationship seen in recent years between announcements of monetary easing and rises in the stock market, this may even have the effect of supporting US equities.

Protectionist bent

In the longer term, candidate Trump's economic policies were somewhat vague, but a clear line of protectionism could be discerned.

Trade deals are to be renegotiated and a tougher line taken with currency manipulating trade partners.

The particular target of such rhetoric is China, which Trump has often accused of using an artificially depressed exchange rate to hollow out US manufacturing.

If President Trump follows through on his threats of retaliatory tariffs on Chinese goods, some of up to 45%, the Chinese could be expected to retaliate.

Beijing may seek a devaluation to offset the effect of any such tariffs.

However, this would run counter to the apparent policy in recent years of boosting Chinese consumption.

Trade retaliation

More likely, the Chinese government would react by restricting imports from the US.

As a command economy it has the power to do this, and with a Trump presidency ripping up the rule book on international trade, it could expect little push back in the WTO.

As a major importer of agricultural produce from the US, particularly soybeans, China might look to other markets to meet this demand.

Brazilian producers, for example, could profit.

John Phelan is Agrimoney's senior Economist. His latest report "China 2017 - Agricultural Deregulation and its Global Impact" will be published shortly. For more information please see www.agrimoneyresearchreports.com

By John Phelan

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