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Here’s What Wall Street Is Saying About the Presidential Debate

September 27, 2016, 3:35 PM UTC
Campaign 2016 Debate
Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton smiles as Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump speaks during the presidential debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y., Monday, Sept. 26, 2016. (Rick T. Wilking/Pool via AP)
Photograph by Rick T. Wilking — AP

Media outlets might have declared Hillary Clinton the winner of Monday night’s presidential debates—but what does Wall Street say?

For the most part, analysts agree that the markets have ruled in the Democratic presidential candidates favor. The Mexican peso, which has been viewed as barometer of whether Trump could win—moving in the opposite direction of the candidates chances—surged over two percent Tuesday. Trump has promised to build a wall between the U.S.-Mexican border.

In the U.S., investors have generally looked to Clinton as a continuation of the Obama administration—something predictable, while the Republican presidential candidate is an uncertainty to markets. Markets like certainty. So advantages for Clinton have tended to drive the market up, and the market has fallen when Trump’s support is growing.

Nonetheless, the S&P 500 was up just a few points, or 0.2%, on Tuesday. The reason: A number of Wall Street analysts said that Clinton did not do well enough to stamp out the market’s pricing in a significant chance that Trump could still win. One Wall Street analyst Chris Krueger from Cowen said he thought Clinton’s performance will, for some, reinforce that idea that she is “a phony.”


So here’s a round-up of what Wall Street had to say about the debates last night:

Kit Juckes over at Societe Generale notes that while media outlets have deemed Clinton the winner of last night’s debate, it wasn’t a substantial enough win to dampen the uncertainty that comes with a Trump presidency.

The press verdict on the first US Presidential debate is that Hillary Clinton ‘won’, but Donald Trump didn’t lose badly enough to really reduce the uncertainty. The market verdict is that the Mexican peso, the South African rand and the Korean won all won, while the Japanese yen was the loser (but it lost less than they won). In other words, Mexico heaved a sigh of relief (for now, at any rate) while the markets have gone back to what they know best – hunting for yield.

RBC’s Cathal Kennedy wrote that markets were ruling in favor of Clinton following the debate—at least initially.

A snap poll of 1,000 debate watchers from Public Policy Polling after the first of the three US presidential debates last night found 51% thought Mrs Clinton had won, 40% thought Mr Trump came out on top and 9% were unsure. Financial markets are also judging it in favor of Clinton as US stock index futures reversed losses (Dow futures briefly added 100 points during the debate) after the debate was over, Mexico’s peso rebounded from a record low and haven assets including the yen and gold fell.

Citi’s foreign exchange team meanwhile wrote that the biggest winner in the debate was the Mexican peso.

The Mexican peso is rallying today after perception of better performance by Clinton in the presidential debate. Further rally into Bank of Mexico meeting on Thursday is likely. But we don’t think that yesterday’s debate meaningfully lowers election risk, as typically presidential debates have a very limited impact. The Los Angles Times poll this morning barely moved. We also don’t think that Bank of Mexico will be able to stop peso depreciation. We would look to re-enter short peso trade after the Bank of Mexico meeting.

RBC’s Senior Currency Strategist Elsa Lignos also noted that markets were a little more confident about Clinton taking the white house.

The market response to the first US Presidential debate points to a ‘win’ for Clinton. USD/peso—the closest foreign exchange proxy for Trump’s election prospects—was down 2% in the aftermath. USD/Canadian dollar also dipped slightly lower (though we still think it is underpriced for US election risk). U.S. equity futures rallied (S&P futs +0.6%). Bookies’ odds show a fall in probability of a Trump victory of ~6%, while FiveThirtyEight’s models also show a 3 percentage point fall in Trump’s probability of victory, retracing from yesterday’s all-time high. The next debate will be held on Sunday 9 Oct with the third and final debate on Wed 19 Oct, two weeks ahead of Election Day.

Bespoke Investment Group also weighed in on the debates.

We believe it’s uncontroversial to observe that the debate went in Clinton’s favor last night; that was the broad consensus from pundits, focus groups, the betting markets, and financials markets. Of course, it doesn’t really matter who those various stakeholders believe won—we will wait for polling data to draw firm conclusions. However we do think some of the price action was worth discussing.

Chris Krueger at Cowen and Company wrote five takeaways from the debate:

Five takeaways: 1) reinforced supporters’ views that Clinton a phony and Trump a bully; 2) More importantly, Trump did not broaden support; 3) Clinton won on points and punches—health a non-event; 4) polling from week end critical; 5) Pyrrhic Victory. Maintain 30% probability for President Trump. This was Trump’s last, best chance to significantly move numbers.