Business

Stocks close higher after Donald Trump sworn in as U.S. President

North American stock markets finished the first day of the Trump administration higher, with the Dow Jones, the Nasdaq and the S&P 500 all posting gains.
U.S. stock markets were broadly higher as the 45th U.S. president was being sworn into office on Friday. (Michael Nagle/Bloomberg)

North American stock markets finished the first day of the Trump administration higher, with the Dow Jones, the Nasdaq and the S&P 500 all posting gains.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed up 94.85 points at 19,827.25. The broader S&P 500 index finished the day up 7.62 points at 2,271.31, within striking distance of its all-time high set earlier this month.

The technology-focused Nasdaq index closed the week up 15.25 points, at 5,555.33.

All three major U.S. indexes had been higher earlier in the day, before the new president's speech sparked a modest retreat from those highs. There was little catalyst for the rally in terms of hard news. Much of the world's attention was trained squarely on the U.S. Capitol building, as the the 45th U.S. president begins to implement actual policies.

"There is very little new material information shaping markets this morning as they are likely going to be influenced by headline watching as the incoming U.S. administration focuses upon signing executive orders and advancing legislative measures fairly rapidly over the coming week and beyond," Scotiabank said in a note to clients early Friday morning.

The new administration made it clear what its economic priorities would be within minutes of the swearing-in, as the White House's website was updated to remove the Obama presidency's policies, and replaced with Trump's.

They include:

"President Trump is committed to renegotiating NAFTA," the trade statement reads. "If our partners refuse a renegotiation that gives American workers a fair deal, then the President will give notice of the United States' intent to withdraw from NAFTA."

While short on details, the move was a clear signal of what the new administration intends to do with regards to the U.S. economy.

In a commentary following the inauguration, TD Bank made it clear that there's still much that is unknown for investors.

"The details of the policies he will implement in the early days of his mandate, crucial for deducing the impact on the economy, remain to be seen," the bank said. "The cost of the current Republican tax cut plans would require either dramatic cuts in spending or a sizeable rise in the deficit. It is likely that the final package will be more modest, and provide less of a near-term economic boost than markets expect."

TSX makes strong gains

Despite the uncertainty, the buoyant mood spilled over into Canadian stocks, as the S&P/TSX Composite Index was up 138.07 points to 15,547.88.

The March crude oil contract was at $53.22 US, up $1.10, while the February contract was at $52.42, up $1.05, on
lighter volume.

That wasn't enough to buoy the loonie, however, which closed down 0.07 of a cent to 75.04 cents US. The Canadian dollar has fallen all week, having been at 77 cents following the Martin Luther King holiday on Monday.

Both the Canadian dollar and the Mexican peso slipped after Trump's speech reiterated the anti-globalist approach that the new administration seems poised to deploy.

With files from the Canadian Press

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