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Monday, December 18, 2017

Market futures are up big again to start the week before Christmas, following 4 straight weeks in the green amidst a bona fide Santa Claus rally and indexes that continue to price in the likelihood of the massive tax cut passage through Congress this week. All three major indexes are up at this hour, none higher than the +157 points on the Dow.

The House of Representatives looks to hold their vote as early as today or tomorrow, with the Senate following shortly thereafter. This would bring President Trump his first major piece of legislation passed through Congress since becoming president in January, and it would do so on his own self-imposed timeline: prior to Christmas break.

Complete with rolling back existing regulations, especially concerning the finance industry, this tax cut creates a real win-win for market participants: if, as Trump and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin claim, that the corporate tax breaks generate trillions of dollars in new business, then we can expect to see the market bid up even further than the historic highs we currently enjoy; but if the $1-1.7 trillion this bill would load onto the U.S. deficit causes a new financial crisis down the road, the government could always put another bailout program in place like the one taxpayers funded 9 years ago.

Markets across Europe and Asia also climbed into positive territory overnight, helping bolster domestic markets going forward today. Volume is down on seasonality, and will remain so through the beginning of 2018. But with little by way of economic data expected this week, we expect investors to keep a close eye on steps taken on Capitol Hill as the voting begins. Any delays may trigger some near-term worry, but signs of passage appear very strong at this time.

CEO of CSX Dies

Hunter Harrison, the recently installed chief executive of CSX Corp. (CSX - Free Report) who managed to turn fortunes around for the railroad major in very short order, has died from severe complications after a sudden illness. He was 73.

Upon rumors that Harrison would take the helm at CSX — from Canadian Pacific (CP - Free Report) , based on an insistent campaign from Mantle Ridge’s activist investor Paul Hilal — early last year brought an immediate spike in share price. In Harrison’s first earnings call as CEO of his new company resulted in an 18.6% positive earnings surprise. As a result, and along with the major bull market rally we’ve seen over the past year, CSX zoomed to all-time highs under Harrison’s short tenure.

Those shares are now down in the pre-market roughly 2.5%. Time will tell if Harrison’s quick work managed to right the wrongs for the rail company longer term, or if the activist investors will remain satisfied with CSX’s prospects, but for today we extend condolences to the surviving members of Harrison’s family.

Mark Vickery
Senior Editor

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