Intense volatility, a stock slump and more delays on a stimulus package are some of outcomes investors are considering after President Donald Trump tested positive for Covid-19.
Trump’s diagnosis adds another element of uncertainty to a market that’s already been sizing up the potential for a legal battle or political chaos after the Nov. 3 vote. Now, investors are contending with the possibility of Trump’s ill health and how it could affect the U.S. government.
“The market move is less about the election and more about the possibility that the U.S. president might become incapacitated,” said David Stubbs, head of markets strategy at J.P. Morgan International Private Bank. “This would inject significant uncertainty into the policy and geo-political outlook. That is a clearly a risk-off event and markets are acting as such.”
While markets were broadly lower on Friday, the retreat was calm and orderly. U.S. equity futures slumped 1.6%, with smaller declines in Asian and European stocks. The Chicago Board Options Exchange Volatility Index rose to 29, reaching the highest level in only a week. Haven assets, such as the dollar and gold, were largely steady.
Other investors said Trump’s positive test would largely be a non-issue for markets in the longer term, especially if he shows no symptoms.