Public policy suggests investment in banking sector is a good move
President Donald Trump's administration’s proposed tariffs on steel and aluminum imports increase the value of defensive financial plays in a market anxious about just how far those tariffs will affect sector leadership for stocks.
Anxiety at the thought is well-founded: sectors currently holding steady despite rising interest rates — tech and discretionary consumer spending — heavily rely on global trade for their supply chain. These same supply chains would suffer under the newly imposed tariffs.
In periods of a potential trade war, investors usually look to small-cap and domestically focused stocks as protection from altered sector leadership. With rising interest rates, however, U.S. banks offer investors another viable option.
Morgan Stanley research shows how commercial and investment banks have outperformed recently, citing strong earnings growth, attractive valuation, and likely deregulation thanks to the business-friendly administration.
The strong possibility of multiple rate increases by the Fed this year means the short-term federal funds rate will likely rise above 2 percent for the first time in a decade, alongside a 10-year Treasury rate near 2.90 percent that is likely to climb.
All this, coupled with increased profitability of loans in a time where commercial and industrial loans are in demand, introduces the possibility of bank earnings growing by as much as 28 percent in 2018. Ultimately, that banking sector is a solid reflation play that merits another look as trade drama impacts market sentiment.