- The Washington Times - Monday, October 9, 2017

The stock market has rallied and roared since Americans for the first time sent a billionaire businessman to the White House, with the Dow Jones industrial average setting 62 record-high closings since the Nov. 8 presidential election.

Nothing has seriously discouraged investors — not the most deadly shooting rampage in modern U.S. history, not a series of devastating hurricanes, not the threat of North Korea’s nuclear weapons nor Congress’ repeated failures to repeal Obamacare.

The markets mostly shrugged off a disappointing September jobs report last week that showed the first monthly drop in payrolls in seven years. The setback likely was a result of hurricanes forcing businesses to close, at least temporarily.

It didn’t dent the dizzying market gains.

The Dow has had two winning streaks this year lasting more than 10 days — a feat not seen since 1959. The Dow also matched the 1955 record for three nine-day runs, World Money Watch President Kimberly Amadeo said in a report for the Balance, an online business publication.

Since the election, the Dow is up 24.23 percent, the S&P 500 is up 19.28 percent and the Nasdaq is up 26.8 percent. President Trump touted the figures in a Twitter post.

Market analysts say that Mr. Trump’s mere presence has buoyed the markets, that a business-friendly White House has fueled confidence and that many investors expect the president to deliver tax reform or at least a significant cut to corporate taxes.

“When the economy is strong, disasters, politics and other distractions tend to have less of an impact,” said Randy Frederick, vice president of trading and derivatives as Schwab Center for Financial Research.

He didn’t point to the man in the Oval Office but to the numbers on the board.

“It’s all about economics,” he said.

Mr. Frederick noted that 11 to 13 economic reports were better than expected last week. Even if the September nonfarm payrolls were disappointing, there is little doubt that it was entirely because of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.

He also predicted that the job numbers would rebound in the next two months as businesses recover from the hurricanes.

For Brookings Institution economist Gary Burtless, the prospect of tax reform topped his list of reasons for a bullish market.

“Many investors probably believe the Trump administration and GOP-controlled Congress are likely to succeed in getting a package of tax cuts enacted,” he said.

The final deal doesn’t necessarily have to live up to the massive overhaul of the tax code put forward in the blueprint from the White House and Republican leaders.

“If the GOP tax package is broadly similar to tax packages passed by previous GOP congresses, this should be good news for investors,” said Mr. Burtless. “First, businesses will face lower overall taxes on their profits. Second, high-income investors will see lower tax rates on their capital profits.”

Mr. Trump credits his pro-business agenda for the vibrant market.

While his biggest policy impact so far has been limited to the rollback of federal regulations, the president has made jobs and economic growth top priorities.

“We want to dramatically reduce the tax on American manufacturers so that we can compete and win on the world stage. And I will tell you, the receptivity to what we’re proposing is fantastic,” Mr. Trump said at an event to promote his agenda to boost U.S. manufacturing.

“We’re keeping our companies, and the companies are coming back in. And perhaps, most importantly, we’re making our workers happy, and they love to work,” he said.

The president will stump for the tax reform plan, the cornerstone of his still-unrealized economic agenda, on Wednesday in Hamburg, Pennsylvania.

Other factors driving the markets include deregulation, promises of higher profits in key industries such as energy and pharmaceuticals, and economic growth worldwide, which is good news for big U.S. companies that make much of their money abroad, he said.

The White House was sensitive to the negative job numbers and stressed that a separate report showed the unemployment rate fell to 4.2 percent in September, the lowest level since 2001.

The difference between the two reports is that the unemployment rate measures people who have jobs, whether or not they get paid. The payroll report measures the number of paychecks cut by employers.

“While many displaced weren’t able to work, the economy still remains extremely strong,” said White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

“We are encouraged to see the unemployment rate has once again dropped, and workforce participation vaulted to a 3-year high,” she said. “This underscores the need for Congress to work with us to grow the economy and create jobs. The importance of passing tax relief for American workers and business cannot be overstated.”

The overall jobs outlook was of an economy thriving better under Mr. Trump than the previous administration, said Andy Puzder, the former CEO of fast-food giant CKE Restaurants.

“In fact, the eight months following President Trump’s inauguration are the only months since February of 2009 in which 60 percent or more of Americans were employed and it’s been above 60 percent for every month of the Trump presidency. In September, the percentage of Americans who were employed reached 60.4 percent,” he wrote Monday in an opinion piece for The Hill.

Mr. Puzder withdrew his name from consideration to be Mr. Trump’s labor secretary under scrutiny of his employing an illegal immigrant as a housekeeper and his ex-wife’s accusations, although recanted, of spousal abuse.

Mr. Puzder said the Trump economy was creating not only more jobs, but also better jobs.

“Since January, the number of people working full time has increased by 2 million while the number working part time increased by only 245,000. In September alone, the number of people working full time increased by 935,000. This helps explain why average hourly wages have grown by 2.9 percent over the past 12 months, the highest level of annual wage growth in over eight years,” he wrote.

“Bottom line, thanks in great part to President Trump’s deregulation efforts, businesses are growing and hiring and more Americans are working better jobs for higher pay,” he said.

• S.A. Miller can be reached at smiller@washingtontimes.com.

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