Probability of US tax reform becoming law increases, resulting in gains for US equities and the USD
US Senate and House Republicans began discussions on tax reform on Monday in an effort to resolve the differences in their respective bills. The final proposal appears likely to be tilted towards the Senate’s version. Overall, there is increased probability that the bill will become law (either before year-end or early in 2018).
The Senate’s version is less favorable for small businesses (net reduction in taxes over the next ten years: -$391 bn vs -$638 bn in the House’s version). As a result, US small cap equities underperformed large caps by -0.7% wow (see graph page 10). The Senate proposal favors individuals (-$681 bn vs -$367 bn).
Regarding corporates, the net tax reduction over the next ten years for domestically earned income is $631 bn in the Senate’s version ($712 bn in House’s), while the difference for internationally earned income is small (net increase: $263 bn vs $278 bn).
The Fed is expected to raise the Federal funds rate target by 25 bps, to 1.25%-1.50%, at its meeting on December 12-13, with the latest labor market report providing further support for such a move due to strong job gains and moderate wage growth (see Economics section). Interest rate projections will likely be little changed compared with September ’17 (three hikes in 2018 and two in 2019 to 2.75%), with the risks tilted to the upside for the first time in a year (see graph page 3).
Euro area GDP in Q3 was strong at 2.6% yoy, the highest since early 2011, due to robust business spending. Moreover, due to the solid confidence indicators so far in Q4, the ECB, at its meeting on Thursday, will likely upgrade its GDP forecasts for 2018 (currently: 1.8% yoy), while projections for CPI (1.2% yoy) and core CPI (1.3% yoy) are expected to remain broadly unchanged. However, no major monetary policy announcements or changes in forward guidance are expected.
In China, private non-financial sector debt as % of GDP declined slightly in Q2:17 (for the first time in six years) to 210% from 211% in Q1:17 (see graph). The authorities’ efforts to stem excessive leverage continue, with total social financing growth at 12.5% yoy in November, from 13.0% yoy in October (12.9% yoy so far in 2017, on average). Note that the IMF (December 2017) recommended a targeted increase in banks’ capital, while highlighting the need for a clear prioritization of financial stability over GDP objectives.
Global equities were mixed during the past week, with modest profit-taking in emerging markets (+27.6% ytd vs +18.4% ytd for Developed markets in $ terms). Regarding sectors, Banks performed well on both sides of the Atlantic (US: +2.3%, euro area: +3.5%), as amendments to the Basel III framework agreed on December 7th, were lighter than expected. With Basel III, the regulatory reform process has almost been completed, removing a source of uncertainty for bank equities.
The US Dollar appreciated in the past week, by 1.0% wow against the euro to $1.177 (+0.8% in NEER terms) on the back of progress on tax reform and strong US labor market data (see our Asset Dashboard page 3). Sterling was up by 0.4% wow against the euro to €/0.879 reflecting positive developments in Brexit negotiations (-3.4% ytd).