On November 9, 2016, India’s benchmark index, the Sensex, tanked by 1,600 points in initial trading hours. One of the factors contributing to this sharp drop was Donald Trump’s then-surprising victory over Hillary Clinton in the US presidential election. Indian investors were anticipating a win for Clinton.
They will once again be keenly monitoring the 2020 US election on Nov. 3. But the difference is that Indian markets are expected to emerge as clear winners, whatever the outcome.
Analysts at UBS Global Research predict that India will benefit from all three possible outcomes: Joe Biden winning with Democrats clinching both houses of Congress; a status quo (Trump is re-elected with a divided Congress); and a Biden victory with Democrats and Republicans keeping a hold on the House of Representatives and the Senate, respectively. There is also a potential fourth, unwelcome, uncertain outcome: an election that’s stuck in the courts for weeks, in which case there may be a selloff of emerging assets.
If Biden comes to power by winning both houses of Congress, India will benefit from “potentially more favorable US trade policies,” according to UBS Global Research’s report. This is likely to provide a boost to Indian investors’ sentiment, pushing the markets up.
Whether Trump or Biden wins, the Federal Reserve’s low-interest policy is expected to continue, especially in the near-term. If Biden is victorious, analysts at UBS Global Research expect someone with a dovish stance to replace the Fed’s current chair Jerome Powell in 2022. If Trump wins, they assume that an unorthodox chairman could be nominated who might even look at negative rates.
This is a big plus for Indian markets as it would result in the continued inflow of cheap capital into Indian stock as well as debt markets. The report says that Indonesia and India currently have the biggest yield spread over US treasurys (government bonds).
The effects of low interest rates are already visible in India. Foreign institutional investors (FIIs) are lapping up bonds as the Indian government plans to increase spending. FIIs have also pumped $1.6 billion into Indian equities in August, which is the highest in 10 years (pdf).
Analysts are also looking at it from the other side. With US election uncertainty hopefully out of the way by the end of November, Asian equities are expected to perform better.
“I think that the US presidential elections will have a positive impact on the Asia Pacific market inflows,” said David Chao, a strategist at asset management company Invesco. “I expect emerging market Asia equities to strengthen from current levels into the year-end as the election overhang is removed and investors refocus on fundamentals, such as an improving economy and likely Covid-19 vaccine in 2021.”