US Markets

Bob Doll says Trump policies are merely 'icing on the cake' as global economy improves

Markets' 'easy gains' in rearview mirror: Bob Doll

The "Trump rally" has little to do with the president and more with improving economic conditions, strategist Bob Doll told CNBC on Tuesday.

"I think the stock market's up primarily because the economy is doing a whole lot better," Nuveen Asset Management's chief equity strategist told "Squawk Box."

"Last week, [President Donald] Trump speaks Tuesday night, market's up 300 [basis points] on Wednesday. And the Thursday headlines say, 'Trump rallies the market.' No, no, no, no — the global PMI was at least 200 of those 300 points, in my view," Doll said.

The PMI, or Purchasing Managers' Index, gauges the economic well being of the manufacturing industry.

"The economy needs to remain good to continue this," Doll said. "Trump's policies could be icing on the cake."

But as the market runs higher, things like a Federal Reserve interest rate hike could be obstacles to the rally's longevity, Doll said.

"The Fed's turning neutral and then negative for the stock market," Doll said. "I think it means that the easy gains are in the rearview mirror."

The hike is widely expected to be announced at the Fed's March 15 meeting. The central bank has indicated it will issue two to three rate increases this year.

"There are other things like earnings pushing the market higher, but we no longer have the Fed in our court in my view," the strategist said.

For now, Doll said he feels comfortable being invested in bank stocks, and that Trump's policies may be the "icing" they need.

"Don't give up on the financials. They're up a bunch," he said. "Better economy, higher interest rates, less regulation — nobody benefits more than the financials from that."

And the benefits will likely be across the board, though Doll said his team prefers the big banks as opposed to the increasingly popular regionals.

"When we're really bullish, Bank [of] America and Citi. When we're a little more cautious, JPMorgan and Wells [Fargo]," the strategist said.