America’s stock market is on fire, registering its best start to a year since the dotcom bubble days of the late 1990s.
The Dow’s ascent above 27,000 has been propelled in large part by the Federal Reserve’s rapid pivot from rate hikes to potential cuts. That historic shift has made stocks look even more attractive than bonds, and raised confidence that the longest economic expansion on record will continue.
Ed Yardeni, president of investment advisory Yardeni Research, believes the Dow could zoom to 31,500 by the end of next year or even sooner.
But his bullish call isn’t based squarely on economic fundamentals. Instead, Yardeni believes it’s all about President Donald Trump’s evolving trade war giving the Fed no choice but to reintroduce easy money.
“Trump has figured out the perfect way to force the Fed to lower interest rates. All he has to do is keep creating uncertainty about US trade policy,” Yardeni wrote in a recent note to clients.
Fed chief Jerome Powell explicitly called out trade uncertainty as the main risk to the American economy — a risk so great that the US central bank has signaled looming rate cuts. And Trump knows this.
Yardeni suggested that Trump could keep trade negotiations open and continue to alternate his message about how those talks are going.
“The more uncertainty, the better to get the Fed to lower interest rates,” Yardeni said.
And then the Trump administration could declare victory in the global trade war later this year or early next, lifting stocks further.
Under that scenario, Yardeni anticipates the S&P 500 will cruise to 3,500 by the end of 2020 — or sooner. That roughly translates to 31,500 on the Dow.
“It’s all about winning a second term and playing Powell to do so,” Yardeni wrote.
Best start since 1998
US stocks are already sitting at record highs. The S&P 500 came into this week with a 20.2% gain on the year, the biggest for this point on the calendar for any year since 1998, according to Bespoke Investment Group. It’s also the ninth strongest move since the S&P 500 began in 1928.