The Dow Jones Industrial Index (DJINDICES:^DJI) didn't take kindly to the final result of Tuesday's elections. The index fell 2% at midday as every last one of its 30 member stocks traded in the red.
Banks took the brunt of the market pessimism. Shares of JPMorgan Chase (NYSE:JPM) fell 4.5%, and Bank of America (NYSE:BAC) took a hit to the tune of 5.6%. Investors had been hoping that Mitt Romney and the GOP might repeal some banking regulations under the Dodd-Frank act, such as the risk-reducing Volcker rule.
Instead, the government structure will continue largely unchanged, with Barack Obama as president and a Congress divided; the Senate remains under Democratic control, and the House stays Republican. Wholesale reversals of the pending banking rules look pretty unlikely in this scenario. Ergo, the big banks will have to play by stricter rules, trading risky bets for more conservative money-management practices. That's probably bad for the bottom line, assuming the high-wire gambles don't result in another financial meltdown.
Health insurance giant UnitedHealth Group (NYSE:UNH) has dipped almost 4%. The so-called Obamacare plan may reduce profits in the insurance sector in coming years. On the other hand, hospital operator Tenet Healthcare (NYSE:THC) led the S&P 500 index with a 10.4% positive jump. Obama's health care act gives medical benefits to more Americans, so hospitals should see a surge in patient flows -- and revenues.
All told, I don't think this is a bad trade for America in the long run. Safer banking is an idea we should have gotten behind a decade ago, and a healthier nation might mean shifting profits from insurance vendors and drug developers to care providers and -- dare I say it? -- households. Leave your preconceived notions at the door, and you'll find a very investable market here. It's just that the surefire winners live in different sectors now.