Analysts have warned of political gridlock in Washington after Democrats won control of the House of Representatives in the US midterms
London (AFP) - Stock markets on both sides of the Atlantic charged higher Wednesday in a relief rally as the US midterm elections went pretty much as expected, although analysts warned of potential economic fallout from political gridlock.
The dollar slid against main rivals, with the pound boosted also by talk of an imminent Brexit deal, while oil prices jumped on reports OPEC could cut crude output next year.
In the US, President Donald Trump’s Republican party maintained its control of the Senate following Tuesday’s vote but the Democrats regained power in the House of Representatives.
Broadly in line with forecasts, the outcome means that Trump faces a tough two years before his 2020 re-election bid, with Democrats ready to fight against his tax-cutting, deregulation agenda and boost oversight of the White House.
Wall Street’s top three stock indices all rose at the openning bell, with the Dow climbing 0.7 percent.
In afternoon trading in Europe, London’s benchmark FTSE 100 index rose 1.3 percent. Frankfurt’s DAX 30 index added 0.9 percent and the Paris CAC 40 gained 1.2 percent.
Patrick J. O’Hare at Briefing.com said the rise in stocks “likely speaks to the relief that the election is done and that the overall result went as expected.”
He added: “That fact has removed an element of uncertainty, which has added to market volatility in recent weeks.”
- Risk of ‘gridlock’ -
Other analysts pointed to the consequences of the Democrats holding the House and Republicans the Senate.
“The split Congress means that there is more likely to be gridlock, which will significantly curtail (Trump’s) legislative agenda,” said James Knightley, chief international economist at ING.
While he pointed out that the two sides could possibly work together in areas such as infrastructure spending, he said “for the most part divisions between and within the parties mean that progress will be difficult.
“For example, President Trump’s proposal on additional income tax cuts has received a major blow because of the election result.”
But such a scenario could mean less pressure on the Federal Reserve to raise US interest rates more aggressively, taking some heat out of the dollar.
The central bank’s drive to tighten borrowing costs to offset a resurgent US economy has weighed on global stock markets in recent weeks.
Nader Naeimi, head of dynamic markets at AMP Capital Investors in Sydney, saw the elections result as a “good outcome” for the world economy.
“When you look at… the expectations of more fiscal spending in the US adding to more pressure on debt and debt issuance, having a split government now with more checks and balances is actually a positive set-up for markets.”
- Asia mixed -
Earlier in Asia, Hong Kong’s main stocks index finished 0.1 percent higher after swinging through the day, while Shanghai ended 0.7 percent down and Tokyo shed 0.3 percent. Sydney added 0.4 percent.
Neil Wilson, chief market analyst at Markets.com, added that Trump’s long-running trade war with China would be unlikely to be affected by the vote outcome, meaning tit-for-tat tariffs will continue, eventually squeezing US consumers.
“A split Congress will, in all likelihood, not stop Trump from doubling down on tariffs with China. This could result in us getting all the anti-growth measures of Trump without more of the pro-growth reforms,” he argued.
Elsewhere on Wednesday, oil prices climbed as Bloomberg reported that OPEC ministers meeting in Abu Dhabi this weekend will discuss the possibility of cutting crude production again next year – a move that would end six months of supply increases.
- Key figures around 1430 GMT -
New York - Dow: UP 0.7 percent at 25,815.61 points
London - FTSE 100: UP 1.3 percent at 7,128.48
Frankfurt - DAX 30: UP 0.9 percent at 11,585.20
Paris - CAC 40: UP 1.2 percent at 5,136.10
EURO STOXX 50: UP 1.2 percent at 3,246.01
Tokyo - Nikkei 225: DOWN 0.3 percent at 22,085.80 (close)
Hong Kong - Hang Seng: UP 0.1 percent at 26,147.69 (close)
Shanghai - Composite: DOWN 0.7 percent at 2,641.34 (close)
Euro/dollar: UP at $1.1477 from $1.1416 at 2120 GMT
Pound/dollar: UP at $1.3152 from $1.3097
Dollar/yen: DOWN at 113.26 yen from 113.46 yen
Oil - Brent Crude: UP 0.58 cents at $72.71 per barrel
Oil - West Texas Intermediate: UP 27 cents at $62.48