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Despite a ho-hum performance by the benchmark US stock-market indices, a deeper look suggests the reflation trade that has defined Wall Street since the election may be tiring.
The S&P 500 financials sector, which has surged since the election of Donald Trump, pulled back by 0.7 per cent on the day, marking the third-straight fall. Investors sent the sector rallying in November on hopes the billionaire businessman’s policies would ignite higher levels of economic growth and inflation, and finally prompt the Federal Reserve to boost interest rates more aggressively.
But that speculation has morphed into uncertainty as the Trump administration finds itself stuck in a court battle over its travel ban less than a month after the inauguration. At the same time, US economic data have been looking a little less buoyant, with wage growth disappointing in January, and other consumer and business sentiment surveys seemingly running out of steam after roaring higher.
The rising doubt has also presented itself in the shares of sectors that are seen as replacements for bonds because of their consistent dividend streams. Utility companies, which have barely budged since the election as the broad S&P 500 has rallied by 7 per cent, led the way higher on Wednesday, the second increase in a row.
In the fixed income market, traders bid-up Treasury bonds, sending yields falling to the lowest levels since January. The 10-year yield was recently down 4.5 basis points to 2.34 per cent, while the two-year was off by 2bps to 1.15 per cent.