(TNS) -- In the hours before sunrise Wednesday, the U.S. business community went from being terrified of a Donald Trump presidency — as evidenced by a middle-of-the-night collapse in stock futures — to all but embracing his agenda on such issues as taxes and regulation.
The sentiment seems to be, “Geez, oh man, I’m pretty happy with Trump as long as he doesn’t reopen his Twitter account,” said Chris Grant, managing partner of Grant, Koehler & Levin, an investment firm in Mequon.
During the campaign, Trump often took to Twitter to attack anyone who disagreed with him.
"I think there is a sense that the Republicans, if they actually do what they say what they are going to do, they are going to be able to do a number of meaningful things fairly quickly that I think the market, bottom line, likes," Grant said.
At one point in the wee hours Wednesday, as it became apparent Trump was going to defeat Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, Dow Jones futures had fallen nearly 5%, indicating a free fall was likely once trading opened on Wall Street.
But Trump then delivered a reassuring, unifying message in his early-morning victory speech and the sell-off never happened. The Dow closed up 256.95 points at a near-record 18,589.69 Wednesday, with broader U.S. markets also gaining more than 1% each.
“There was a tremendous amount of pessimism built up should he win,” said Bruce Bittles, chief investment strategist for Milwaukee-based Robert W. Baird & Co. “Now I think we’re looking at optimism. Some people are now believing that the Republican candidate was a lot more business-friendly than the incumbent party would have been. It’s turned 180 degrees.”
That was echoed by other investment pros.
"When his victory speech struck a conciliatory tone instead of mentioning tariffs or immigration, markets rebounded," said economist Brian Jacobsen, chief portfolio strategist for Wells Fargo Funds Management in Menomonee Falls.
Scott Seljan, president of diversified manufacturer Seljan Co. Inc. in Lake Mills, said health care reform must be Trump’s top priority. Trump and other Republicans have vowed to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, which made health coverage available to some 20 million previously uninsured Americans but created costly ripples through much of the health insurance market.
“Our health care (premiums) just rose 31%. And it was already a big number,” said Seljan, whose company employs about 150 people.
The cost of basic family coverage at his company has risen to $2,489 a month; the company covers 70% of the cost, Seljan said.
“That’s a lot of money,” he said. “We never even considered ... that we would have to spend this much money on our health care program for our employees. It’s unbelievably expensive."
According to Jacobsen, "It could be a slam dunk to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, but the question is, with what?"
Trump, he noted, has talked about introducing more competition into the insurance marketplace. Also, biotech companies could benefit "if part of the reform is streamlining of the process by which drugs and treatments get approval."
Kurt Bauer, president and chief executive of Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce, the state’s biggest business lobbying organization, said he sees three areas in which businesses might benefit from a Trump presidency and GOP control of Congress: regulations, taxes and energy.
“On the regulatory side, there is no surprise that the business community has complained about the suffocating amount of regulation that’s come down over the last eight years under the Obama administration,” Bauer said.
In addition to the Affordable Care Act, Bauer mentioned a new overtime rule, set to go into effect next month, as another business-hampering piece of business regulation. Under the rule, any salaried worker who makes less than $47,476 must be paid time and a half for any work beyond 40 hours a week. Previously, only people who made less than $23,660 automatically had to be paid overtime.
“It’s just a punitive rule that will force businesses to make tough decisions about cutting hours and taking away opportunities that, particularly, younger employees who are working their way up the chain need in order to grow and advance in their careers,” Bauer said.
Trump also has talked of lowering the U.S. corporate tax rate of 35% to make American companies more competitive with businesses in places like China, the United Kingdom and Canada, with their rates of 25%, 20% and 15%, respectively, Bauer said.
Obama and Clinton don’t like burning fossil fuels for energy because they contribute to global warming.
But inexpensive energy generated by fossil fuels extracted in the U.S. would cut production costs for businesses, especially manufacturers that are numerous in Wisconsin, Bauer said.
“Optimistic businesses tend to expand and grow and invest and do R&D and do the things that you need in order to grow an economy,” he said.
Trump's economic message resonated in part because of concerns about “job loss and the unequal economic recovery” felt in Wisconsin and other regions that turned the electoral map red, said Scott Segal, a Washington lobbyist on environmental and energy issues.
Regulations that make it “more difficult to invest in manufacturing, in refining, in cement production or in any form of heavy industry also can be perceived as an elitist attempt to undermine the job-making apparatus in states like Wisconsin and Michigan,” he said.
As a result, expect a reversal of energy and environmental rules. A Trump presidency would likely see fewer restrictions on oil exploration and production and a rollback of Obama administration regulations such as those that would restrict fracking and natural gas production.
Banks might also benefit from Trump’s intention to reduce business regulation.
Since 2010, banks have been facing new rules and regulations imposed by the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, which was intended to lower risks in the financial system.
But compliance with the rules raises a bank’s expenses and in some cases hurts consumers, said Rose Oswald Poels, president and CEO of the Wisconsin Bankers Association. It now can take longer for a consumer to close on a home purchase, she said.
“Hopefully we’ll get some meaningful relief that’s common sense for banking and consumers,” she said.
©2016 the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.