Why Traders Should Keep Tabs on the Presidential Debates

This week is relatively light in terms of data but perhaps the biggest event risk is one that’s not in the economic calendar. U.S. presidential contenders Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are set to go head-to-head in the first out of three election debates scheduled on Tuesday 1:00 am GMT. The next two battles are set to take place in October 9 and 19.

Why does this event matter?

The world’s largest economy is on the cusp of determining its next commander-in-chief, not to mention the leader of the free world! Polls are showing that Clinton and Trump are neck-and-neck in this race so these debates would be their chance to swing the lead significantly in their favor.

Apart from that, this event should shed more light on both nominees’ stance on key issues such as tax reform, infrastructure spending, immigration, foreign policy, healthcare, and defense – all of which would have an impact not just on the U.S. economy but on the global scale as well.

What is expected?

This first debate will be divided into six time segments of 15 minutes each based on major topics that the moderator has already announced a week ahead. Each segment will be opened with a main question, after which Clinton and Trump have two minutes each to respond. After that, the candidates will also be given time to respond to each others’ answers and that’s when we grab the popcorn.

Of course Trump is expected to rely on his usual antics and a YUUUUGE flair for the dramatic while Clinton could stay as cool as a cucumber. But beyond this likely entertaining display and the media circus, members of the financial community are likely to weigh in on how the candidates’ plans can affect business activity, consumer sentiment, and overall economic performance.

How might markets react?

Several analysts have noted that a solid performance by Trump could lead to a flight to safety, favoring mostly the Japanese yen, gold, and government bonds. As it is, the latest poll from The Economist/YouGov indicated that Clinton leads Trump by merely 2 points.

A switch in the lead could be negative for U.S. equities and risk appetite, as Trump is seen as a candidate that could bring much more uncertainty to the mix. Besides, most headlines and Clinton’s campaign have focused on how Trump lacks the experience and temperament to lead.

However, other analysts have also remarked that this could prove to be a dud for the markets which seem to have shrugged off major central bank announcements from the previous week. After all, expectations have been running just as high for the FOMC and the BOJ so the lack of action was met with a lot of disappointment. Some say that the presidential nominees could take it easy in this first salvo and save their ammunition for the third one in late October.

How do you think these U.S. presidential debates might turn out? And how will the markets react? Don’t be shy to share your thoughts in our comments section below!

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