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Firepower for U.S. stocks may lose spark as Democrats gain clout

Stock returns have been fueled the past year by Trump’s corporate tax cuts, which have pumped up profits. Yet, any hope of further fiscal stimulus in the form of more tax cuts faded with the results of Tuesday’s congressional elections, with Democrats taking control of the House of Representatives from Trump’s Republican party. “The return to political gridlock in Washington will likely serve to temper growth expectations, or at least moderate the prospect of additional stimulative fiscal policy,” said Jon Hill, US Rates Strategist at BMO Capital Markets in New York. The election comes as the market is also losing the low-rate monetary policy that has supported equities during its near decade-long bull run, as the Federal Reserve is raising interest rates to stave off inflation. Without both fiscal and monetary stimulus, Wall Street performance will depend even more on fundamental factors at a time investors are looking for signs pointing to when the long economic expansion will finally end. “This is really not a stock market that needs more fiscal stimulus and I think in order for the bull market to continue what it really needs is strong earnings in the face of what is likely to be increasing interest rates,” said Rick Meckler, partner at Cherry Lane Investments, in New Vernon, New Jersey. Indeed, some investors may see a silver lining in the diminished prospects for more tax cuts, given concerns about the ballooning deficit and even higher interest rates.

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