Political News

Trump buoyed by Wall Street's gains after rough December

Posted December 27, 2018 7:23 p.m. EST

— President Donald Trump been buoyed by two days of market boosts and made an enthusiastic round of phone calls to advisers from Air Force One on his way back from Iraq after markets closed sharply higher Wednesday, people familiar with the matter say.

Trump has closely monitored Wall Street and uses the Dow Jones Industrial Average as a personal barometer of his political standing, sources have told CNN. In his phone calls Wednesday night from his plane, the President repeated that he believes the economy is doing great.

The Dow rose 1,000 points for the first time on Wednesday. The S&P 500 and the NASDAQ were also up. The gains came after steep market losses before Christmas, including the worst Christmas Eve ever for Wall Street.

On Thursday, equities again rebounded after heavy losses for most of the trading day. The Dow rose 260 points, or 1.14%; the NASDAQ closed narrowly higher, up 0.4%; and the S&P 500 was up 0.8%.

Those gains won't erase what has been a dismal December for Wall Street. The three major indexes are all on track to end the month steeply lower. The market has been gripped by volatility, with investors concerned about a slowing global economy, trade policy and recent moves by the Federal Reserve.

Trump has fumed about the Fed's decision to again raise its benchmark interest rate, tweeting his fury at Chairman Jerome Powell, who he appointed a year ago. Those missives have spurred sell-offs, with investors concerned the President could attempt to fire Powell.

Trump's economic advisers have hurriedly tried to tamp down those fears, saying there's little chance -- or even legal standing -- for the President to fire Powell. Kevin Hassett, the chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, told reporters Wednesday that Powell's job is "100%" safe, despite Trump's vocal complaints about the central bank's decision to raise interest rates -- including in comments to reporters on Christmas Day.

Some of Trump's advisers, including National Economic Council Chairman Larry Summers and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, have worked to arrange a meeting early in the new year between the President and his Fed chairman, hoping a face-to-face can ease tensions and assure investors.

The Fed is an independent body that's supposed to be insulated from political pressure. But presidents have met with Fed chairmen in the past, and the White House has received signals from the Fed that Powell would be open to a meeting with Trump.