Gridlock’: Stock traders cheer, dollar investors jeer US midterm results

Global markets are mixed on Wednesday after, as expected,  Democrats take control of the US House of Representatives, while the Republicans retain control of the Senate.

This outcome could lead to “gridlock” with legislation harder to pass.

Chinese stocks suffered, with worries that the result could lead President Trump to double down on his trade war, which does not require Congressional support.

US stock futures are pointing to a higher open, with the Nasdaq set to rise about 1.2%. European stocks are climbing higher.  

One casualty of the results: The dollar, which dropped 0.4%. The Mexican peso is rallying.

Global markets are broadly higher on Wednesday, but the reaction to news overnight that the Democratic Party has taken control of the US House of Representatives seems to have had the little major impact on sentiment.

The Democrats had been widely expected to flip the house, with the Republican Party retaining control of the Senate, and that is how things appear to have panned out, with the Democrats reaching the 218 seat mark needed for a majority just after 3:00 a.m. Eastern Time.

“Welcome to gridlock,” Paul Donovan, chief economist at UBS Wealth Management said on Wednesday morning. “Trump may now fall back on policy areas that do not require Congress, like the trade.”

Individual race upsets aside, the lack of a broad surprise means that markets have remained fairly sanguine.

“As this outcome was widely anticipated, we see little immediate market impact,” UBS Wealth Management said in a note issued by its chief investment office.

Here’s the markets scoreboard:

  • Nasdaq futures up 1.2%, S&P 500 up 0.7%, and the Dow is up 0.6%
  • The Shanghai Composite Index closed down 0.6%
  • The US dollar index is down 0.4%. The dollar is down 0.5% against the euro and is down 0.3% versus the yen. The Mexican peso is up 0.6% against the US dollar. 
  • The benchmark Euro Stoxx 50 is up 1.3%. Britain’s FTSE 100 is up 0.9% , and Germany’s DAX is up 0.9% 
  • Gold was up 0.7%, while Brent oil fell slightly, 0.2% lower. 

Overnight in Asia, most major indexes fell, perhaps reflecting worries that the increased strength of the Democrats will lead Republican President Donald Trump to double down on some of his core policies, including his trade war with China. China’s benchmark index, the Shanghai Composite, was 0.7% lower at the close.

Donovan’s view was issued by his colleagues in the chief investment office who note that an “increase in gridlock is likely, making it difficult to pass legislation.”

“Without common ground on areas to cut spending, the budget deficit is likely to remain higher than usual, keeping upward pressure on long-term government bond yields.”

The prospect of gridlock seems to have impacted the US dollar, with the dollar index — which tracks the currency against a basket of its peers — dropping around 0.4%.

“The USD has edged gradually lower against many of its counterparts over the course of this week, with this related to expectations that the Democrats winning some influence could provide some legislative resistance towards Trump further pushing forward pro-America policies,” FXTM’s Jameel Ahmed said in an email.

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