It may sound hard to believe, but for all the talk about how well the stock market has done under President Trump, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) is actually up less (25.69%) since he took office than it was under President Obama (40.94%) at the same point in his Presidency! The chart below shows the DJIA’s historical returns during each US President’s first 668 calendar days in office going back to 1900. With a gain of 25.7%, the DJIA’s performance during President Trump’s first 668 calendar days in office is still well above the historical average for all US Presidents (15.59% – see table below) and even better when you compare it to just Republican Presidents (11.09%).
Looking at just the market’s performance since each President took office, however, may be considered a bit misleading given the fact that the market also tends to react swiftly once a President is elected. Based on this measure, even after the recent pullback in stock prices, the DJIA’s returns since President Trump was elected until now (741 days) are still the best since Eisenhower and more than twice the returns of Obama at the same point following his election in 2008.
In the table below, we have listed the DJIA’s returns for each US President since 1900 in both their first 668 days in office as well as the first 741 days after they were elected or assumed office. In the case of Presidents who weren’t elected, we used the date they first assumed office as the starting point for each period. Obviously, no method of measuring stock market returns is perfect and a lot of the rankings often are impacted by the political bias of the person reporting them. In terms of the charts above, Republicans will likely dismiss the first and focus on the second, while Democrats will do the opposite. As an investor, you should pay little attention. The basic takeaway here is that big moves over a short period of time can have a big impact on how the stock market supposedly views a President.