Trump or Clinton? 'Short sellers' eyeing wage hike regardless of winner

Hungry "short sellers" have zeroed in on the upcoming U.S. elections, expecting a rise in the minimum wage which will erode corporate profits, according to a new report by analysis firm Markit.

These short sellers - traders who bet that a particular security will fall in price - seem to be taking particular notice of the comments coming from presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump, as well as Democrat nominees Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders.

"Wages have played a key role in rhetoric around the current U.S. election, encouraging sellers to position themselves to profit from a rise in wages," the report, released on Thursday, said.

Analyst Simon Colvin calculates that shorting among U.S. firms with the worst net income to employee ratio is now 63 percent higher than average. Added to this, low net income to employee firms have underperformed the market by 15 percent since January 2015 and have historically delivered poor returns, he added. Markit use the amount of shares outstanding on loan as a proxy for short selling.

"Any of these (wage hike initiatives) has the potential to further fuel wage growth past the current post recession high should they prevail; potentially eating into corporate profit margins, " Colvin said.

Wages remain a hot topic in the U.S. seven years after the global financial crash. Major retailers such as Target and Wal-Mart have announced an increase to wage floors in the last year.

Trump said earlier this month that he was "open to doing something" with the country's minimum wage. However, he added that any increase would have to be weighed against a potential loss of competitiveness, according to Reuters.

Donald Trump (L) and Hillary Clinton (R).
Getty Images
Donald Trump (L) and Hillary Clinton (R).

But the billionaire real estate mogul has come under fire for flip-flopping on the topic, with some suggesting he has called for the end of the federal minimum wage with a recommendation to "let the states decide."

In the Democrat camp, Bernie Sanders says on his website that he wants to increase the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $15 an hour by 2020. Clinton says she supports raising the federal minimum wage to $12, but has previously said she also supports state and local fights for $15 in places "that can go higher" like Seattle, Los Angeles, and New York City.

The potential outcome of the elections - and what it means for the U.S economy - has been the subject of much debate between economist. Bob Janjuah, senior independent client adviser at Nomura, told CNBC Wednesday that Trump was more likely to cut taxes and take other measures to boost job creation and growth in the U.S.

"If Mr. Trump is elected president, as a Republican, and you have a Republican Congress, you might get a fiscal package going. But if Mrs. Clinton is elected president and you have a Republican Congress — which is what you are going to have for another two years give or take — I don't think they are going to get any fiscal policy in the U.S.," he said.