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Here’s Who Wall Streeters Think Won the Second Debate

October 10, 2016, 9:13 PM UTC
Republican U.S. presidential nominee Donald Trump and Democratic U.S. presidential nominee Hillary Clinton speak during their presidential town hall debate at Washington University in St. Louis
Republican U.S. presidential nominee Donald Trump and Democratic U.S. presidential nominee Hillary Clinton speak during their presidential town hall debate at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, U.S., October 9, 2016. REUTERS/Jim Young TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY - RTSRJBY
Jim Young—Reuters

Donald Trump performed significantly better in Sunday night’s debate than in the first one—but it likely wasn’t enough to move the undecided voters he needs.

That’s the general buzz among Wall Street analysts who watched the debate last night, and investors who reacted to it today—the S&P 500 ticked upward by 0.52%, while the Mexican peso rose to a month-long high before returning to pre-debate levels in intraday trading Monday.

Those upticks suggest that investors, for the most part, ruled in Hillary Clinton’s favor last night. Analysts are expecting a Clinton win to keep the status quo and potentially boost the economy and S&P 500. St-Louis-based Macroeconomic Advisers has even predicted that investors could lose a combined $2 trillion on the market should Trump take the White House. Traders of the Mexican peso have also been closely watching the presidential race, as Trump’s proposed policies including building a wall between the U.S. and Mexico and steeper tariffs on the neighboring country, would likely leave Mexico financially worse off.

Here’s what top Wall Street strategists had to say about the debate last night:

RBC’s Senior Currency Strategist Elsa Lignos noted that bookies and pollsters seem to be leaning toward a Clinton win, largely due to the leaked 2005 tapes.

“US dollar to Mexican peso is down 1.3% in Asia trading and US dollar to Canadian dollar is down 0.3% (spot 1.3250) as both bookies’ odds and pollster models point to a falling probability of a Trump victory; that seems to have more to do with Friday’s leaks than the second Presidential debate.”

TD Ameritrade’s Chief Market Strategist JJ Kinahan released his comments on the topic:

“The market declared tonight’s debate a draw and has no more clue after debate than before, at least not in watching the S&P futures. Once again the debate was great theater, but did not give the market any insight. Despite the night’s civil ending, it was hard to glean much information, as a good part of the debate was simply a name-calling fest.”

RBC Capital Economist Sam Hill and Strategist Vatsala Datta weighed in on the debates in a daily economics note Monday, saying that the price of the Mexican peso surged—suggesting that investors judged Clinton the winner:

“The second debate between the US presidential candidates took place overnight. A lively contest resulted in CNN’s quick phone poll showing 57% deeming Clinton to have won the debate and 34% judging Trump as the winner although other similar polls may be yet to emerge. In the equivalent CNN poll after the first debate on 26 September Clinton scored 62%. Overall though, compared to Friday’s levels, the Mexican peso, which has been sensitive to opinion polls, is about 1.5% stronger versus USD reflecting by proxy a lower perceived probability of a Trump victor.”


Cowen’s Chris Krueger wrote that Trump’s candidacy was nearly done, and raised the chance of a Clinton win to 80% from 70%. Trump’s performance last night was good—but it was aimed at solidifying his base, not expanding it. The fall out resulting from Trump’s campaign, such as from the 2005 tapes, could even turn the U.S. Senate blue:

“We disagree with many in Washington who describe Trump’s presidential campaign as the electoral equivalent of a dumpster fire because a dumpster fire – by definition—is contained,” Krueger wrote. “The key undercard question is not if the Democrats can net 31 seats (we have raised our probability from less than 10% to 20% in event Trump loses), but what the House GOP majority looks like after the elections.”

Cornerstone Macro’s team wrote a note Monday saying Clinton is heavily favored to win the election. But the question is, what will happen to the U.S. House? Trump has turned to attacking congressional Republicans who abandoned him following the release of his 2005 tapes—and that could also hand the House to the Democrats. The team writes:

“First, swing voter will shift to Clinton and maybe turn on Republicans generally. Second, more dispirited Republicans will stay home. Third, some Trump supporters will vote against the senators and congressman in swing states/districts who have denounced Trump. Put these three factors together and maybe a Republican congressman that would have won by 6-10 percentage points all of a sudden is behind. It does not seem like a stretch to us that we could see a tidal wave from the combined effect of these three factors.”

In a comprehensive note from Evercore ISI, Senior Political Strategist Terry Haines noted that while Trump’s performance was better in this debate compared to the last, it was not the “game-changing, momentum-reversing performance” he needed.

“Overall, tonight’s debate confirms our election base case that Clinton is president but will have to work with a closely politically divided Congress in which neither party has control,” Haines wrote. But “with a more even debate tonight, it is unlikely that there will be a post-tape (the Trump and Billy Bush tapes released by the Washington Post), post-debate large rush to Clinton tonight. The likelier result is another couple of per cent nationally at most towards Clinton as more voters gradually conclude that Clinton is the better of the two choices they rather would not have.”

Haines also noted that with just 30 days left until the Nov. 8 elections, both campaigns will bring out all the ammunition—meaning there will “certainly be more revelations” as Clinton and Trump run the final leg of the race.