Donald Trump's approval ratings show that the majority of Americans may be disappointed with the President's first 100 days. For stock market investors, however, Trump has been one of the best presidents ever.
Since his inauguration in January, the S&P 500 has risen 5.5%. Not only is that about twice as much as the benchmark stock index rose during President Obama's first 100 days, but it's one of the strongest starts, in terms of market performance, to any presidency since World War II.
Of the dozen presidents elected in that time, Trump's S&P 500 return comes in third, after John F. Kennedy's 9% surge in his first 100 days in 1961, and George H. W. Bush's 7.7% bounce in 1989, according to research firm CFRA. The younger George W. Bush wasn't so lucky: He began his presidency in the throes of the dotcom bust in early 2001 and had the worst 100-day return of any of U.S. president, with the S&P 500 sinking 5.5%.
Obama also entered the White House amid a flailing stock market following the 2008 crash. The S&P 500 didn't even hit bottom until the 49th day of his presidency, though the bull market that started midway through his first 100 days more than made up for the losses, delivering 12% annualized returns during his eight years.
The current rally, dubbed the Trump Bump, actually began right after Election Day, and the stock market’s gains have been even more impressive since then, carrying the Dow Jones industrial average above 19,000 for the first time in November, then 20,000 right after Trump's inauguration, and then 21,000 just weeks later.
The S&P 500 is up 11.6% since Trump won the election, though Kennedy and the first President Bush still beat him with their post-election market bumps. The Dow and Nasdaq have soared even further, up 14.3% and 16.4%, respectively. That's despite the fact that many of Trump's promises to boost business and economic growth in his first 100 days, which fueled the stock market's rise, have so far failed to materialize.
The real test will be whether Trump's accomplishments in the next phase of his presidency live up to investors' expectations. If history is any guide, though, presidents who presided over bull markets in their first 100 days tended to see stocks extend their gains over the next six months, according to CFRA. (The only exception was Richard Nixon.)
Under Obama, for one, the S&P 500 surged nearly 19% from May to October in the first year of his presidency as stocks recovered from the Financial Crisis. Under Bush Sr., the stock market added another 10% to its 100-day returns. After starting Kennedy's presidency with outsized gains, however, the S&P 500's performance was more tepid over the following months, rising only another 5%. If the Trump Bump sustains its momentum, the President may win higher approval ratings from investors, at least.