December 19, 2017 / 8:07 PM / a year ago

Instant View: House approves biggest tax overhaul in 30 years, Senate next

(Reuters) - The Republican-controlled U.S. House of Representatives approved sweeping, debt-financed tax legislation on Tuesday, sending the bill to the Senate, where lawmakers were due to take up the package later in the evening.

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KEY POINTS:

The biggest overhaul of the U.S. tax system in more than 30 years could be signed into law by President Donald Trump as soon as Wednesday, if both chambers of Congress approve it.

The bill passed the House by a vote of 227-203, overcoming united opposition from Democrats and 12 Republicans who voted against it.

CHRISTOPHER LOW, FTN FINANCIAL, CHIEF ECONOMIST, NEW YORK

“The bond market today is reassessing the whole thing now that it looks like it’s going to pass. We’ve had a pretty significant rise in yields - we’re back up close to the highs for the quarter.

“Stocks on the other hand have been in front of this for a long time, I think initially because lower taxes means more earnings are retained and then companies can distribute those to shareholders or not. But either way, it’s likely to be beneficial to stock prices.”

JACK ABLIN, CHIEF INVESTMENT OFFICER, BMO PRIVATE BANK, CHICAGO

“The tax rate we’ve certainly priced in (in stocks), though I certainly expected smallcaps to do a little bit better coming into this vote. What I think is not priced in yet is the economic impact of the incentives. It still remains to be seen what businesses will actually do. Will they buy equipment, invest in technology, hire more workers?”

“The assumption right now is financial engineering, buybacks, dividend increases, is where the incentives will go. Redeploying cash, recapitalizing balance sheets, maybe debt repayment.”

“I do think there’s a fair amount of skepticism these benefits will ultimately result in expansions. I’m getting a sense investors are pricing in the one-time tax pop, we’ll see if there’s any follow through next year.”

On the rise in Treasury yields: “It’s been a monetary policy-led expansion, now we get a fiscal boost and some may be concerned (that) the boost on the fiscal side (may) be offset by monetary tightening.

“The big question (for the dollar) is how other central banks will respond to this (U.S.) fiscal stimulus package. That’s probably what’s weighing on investors’ minds right now - celebrating the tax package but recognizing that what central banks have given us in the last years they could begin to take away.”

JIM PAULSEN, CHIEF INVESTMENT STRATEGIST, THE LEUTHOLD GROUP, MINNEAPOLIS

“As we look back on this a little bit, I really think it might be buy the rumor sell the news. Wall Street has had long enough to vet this thing. And it has been known for a long time that something was going to pass here, at least for the last 30, 45 days. Whether it was going to be 21 percent rate or 20 percent rate is not that significant. It’s more the general parts of it were pretty much known and vetted and I think implemented into the market... If you look at the relative performance in the market today, it’s fairly clearly more of a shot towards better economic growth or even inflation... I think the biggest move today of anything is bond yields. That’s the big story.”

AARON KOHLI, INTEREST RATE STRATEGIST, BMO CAPITAL MARKETS, NEW YORK

“They seem to have locked up all the necessary votes... I think the markets are still trying to figure out how much should we expect, will people react right away, what will be the second order effects?

“There are a lot of questions that still haven’t answered. The first one is, assuming it goes into effect Jan. 1, when is the first time people start seeing any changes in their pay checks? And the answer is it could be a couple of months. Even then for most of middle America you aren’t going to see the savings until tax time, which means you may not see it until April 2019. I’m not sure that’s early enough to help midterms and I think that’s really where the markets’ are going to start to focus next. How do we handicap what it does for Republicans in the midterms? Does it help them? Does it do nothing for them? Or it may even hurt them.”

BRIAN PEERY, PORTFOLIO MANAGER, HENNESSY FUNDS IN NOVATO, CALIFORNIA

“The market is taking kind of a breather, digesting the news. The market is off a little bit, maybe because the bill is not as popular as the GOP hoped it would be in the public opinion. The overall market looks still really strong and healthy.”

“Looking at companies in our portfolio, (the tax bill) will be great for domestic small- and mid-cap companies paying a 30, 35 percent effective tax rate. A lot of them do not have the ability to move profits offshore... I’ll wait and see how much, but I can see another 5 percent rise (in the market) in the next few months as the tax bill kicks in.”

ALICIA LEVINE, DIRECTOR OF PORTFOLIO STRATEGY AT BNY MELLON INVESTMENT MANAGEMENT, NEW YORK:

“The effects of the tax cuts will be immediately accretive to corporate earnings which will support equity markets. Also, the tax package will be positive for growth in the real economy.

“The tax cuts add $10 to baseline S&P earnings for 2018 putting 2018 expected earnings at $156 or a 19 percent growth rate over 2017 earnings... This is supportive of equity markets; sectors to focus on would be small caps, value and financials.”

PAUL NOLTE, PORTFOLIO MANAGER AT KINGSVIEW ASSET MANAGEMENT IN CHICAGO:

“It’s pretty much along party lines. The takeaway is more buy the rumor, sell the news. The market has been rallying over the last week or so in anticipation of this vote. We’re (now) going to be looking toward the government funding bill.”

“It’s going to take time to see how the general population reacts to it (tax). The expectation is companies are going to bring back a lot of dollars back to the United States and put it into plant and equipment. It very well may go into stock buybacks and dividend increases. There’s no certainty we’re going to get the promised economic gain everybody’s been talking about.”

CHUCK CARLSON, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER, HORIZON INVESTMENT SERVICES, HAMMOND, INDIANA

“I think the market had been pretty well expecting this. I don’t think there’s any ... surprise here to the market. The momentum had been pretty strong in the last two weeks in terms of getting this done, and I think the market has pretty well anticipated getting it done.”

“You may see some reactions going forward in certain sectors and subcategories. Maybe you see smallcaps pick up a little bit more. Maybe you see the transports, which have lagged large caps, start to do a little bit better. But in the main, the market had already been factoring this in.”

“It has a lot of potential ramifications. It’s going to certainly play a role in the midterm elections next year, and people are going to have some time to try to evaluate whether their plight in life is better because of it before they go to the voting booth next year. So from a political standpoint it has impact.”

OMAIR SHARIF, SENIOR U.S. ECONOMIST, SOCIETE GENERALE, NEW YORK

“This seems like it’s a done deal especially if Corker and Collins end up on board on the Senate side. They will get across the finish line by Christmas after moving the goal post a number of times.

“I think for more than a few days now, this was likely going to pass. This has been baked in the cake with the markets. They have been expecting this for a long time. It’s a few days before Christmas, so trading is quite thin. I wouldn’t read too much into any market reaction. The real telling thing for this is the second half of next year, whether this actually lifts growth above 3 percent on any sustained basis on capital spending and consumer spending. It’s more a political achievement than an economic achievement.”

MARKET REACTION:

Stocks trimmed losses slightly, but then dipped back. The S&P 500 Index was last down 0.3 percent. Treasury yields hovered near session highs and the dollar held its gains against the yen.

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