White House backs off stock market boasts as Dow, Nasdaq drop

The White House on Tuesday backed off of previous attempts to tie the success of the stock market to its economic agenda as stocks slid.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer said it wasn’t fair to judge the Trump administration’s economic policy based on the performance of the stock market.

President Trump, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and several White House aides previously claimed credit as the Dow Jones Industrial Index soared to record highs following Trump’s election and inauguration.

But as the Dow Jones, S&P 500 and Nasdaq each fell roughly 1 percentage point on Tuesday, Spicer said it wasn’t fair to judge the administration on the stock market.

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“You can’t look at one indices and say that’s the benchmark for an entire economy,” said Spicer. “You see confidence levels both in small business and other surveys that show there’s continued confidence in the market.”

It’s rare for any administration to tie itself too closely to the volatile stock market. The market doesn’t reflect all sections of the economy, and bragging about its success opens the administration up to criticism during stock downswings.

Trump and his aides have taken credit for previous stock increases, with Mnuchin even telling CNBC that the stock market was “absolutely” a report card for the Trump administration’s economic policy.

"We're in an environment where there's very attractive investment opportunities in the U.S., and I think that's reflective of the administration's goals and what the market thinks of it," Mnuchin said.

Businesses have been generally high on the Trump administration’s promises to cut back financial regulations and reform taxes. A Business Roundtable survey of CEOs from last week found that corporate chiefs are the most optimistic they’ve been since 2009, while another survey found the most optimism among homebuilders since 2005.

Even so, financial analysts have warned that the lack of progress on healthcare could stifle tax reform and financial deregulation, limiting room for stock growth.