And in the weeks since the election stocks have climbed steadily, primarily because of encouraging vaccine news. Pfizer, Moderna and Astra-Zeneca have all announced that their vaccine candidates showed favorable results in trials. The S&P 500 has risen roughly 8 percent since the election. Some investors believe that with Mr. Biden in the White House, and Republicans likely to retain control of the Senate, they could count on political gridlock to block tax increases that could roil the markets.
“You have a Biden administration likely governed by a split Congress and a conservative Supreme Court so it eliminates some of the most extreme policies either on the right or left,” said Michael Arone, chief investment strategist at State Street Global Advisors. “So markets are celebrating that.”
The good news about vaccines has bolstered stocks that had been hit hard by the outbreak. Stocks of airlines and oil companies have soared this month. United Airlines, American Airlines and Delta Air Lines have all climbed by more than 30 percent. The oil giant Chevron is up nearly 38 percent. The Russell 2000 — an index of smaller capitalization companies heavily influenced by the shorter-term outlook for the U.S. economy, is up more than 20 percent this month alone.
But many analysts believe that the market could have done even better without the political uncertainty about the outcome of the election. The president’s baseless claims that there was fraud in the election and that he would ultimately win a second term helped keep a lid on gains by injecting uncertainty into the markets.
The decision on Monday by Emily W. Murphy, the administrator of the General Services Administration, to allow the presidential transition process to move forward made investors feel confident that the election was finally over, Ms. Hooper said. “I think that was creating a significant overhang and raised questions about how long this would drag on,” she said.
Markets also appeared to welcome the return of politics as usual under a future Biden administration, and were reassured by the news that Ms. Yellen will be Mr. Biden’s nominee to head the Treasury Department. She is a known quantity on Wall Street, well respected for her steady leadership at the head of the central bank, from 2014 to 2018.
“There had been some fear that Mr. Biden would pick a Treasury secretary with a strong anti-Wall Street bias,” wrote analysts with High Frequency Economics in a client note on Tuesday. “Janet Yellen isn’t that.”