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Hurricane Harvey will have limited effect on the US stock market, top Wall Street strategists say

  • John Stoltzfus of Oppenheimer Asset Management pointed out that damages from other hurricanes "were digested and discounted by the markets and the national economy relatively quickly."
  • Citigroup's Tobias Levkovich said natural disasters usually have a small impact on the national U.S. economy.
  • Harvey, a Category 4 hurricane that later weakened into a tropical storm, ravaged Houston and other parts of Texas this weekend.
Pedestrians pass in front of the New York Stock Exchange.
Michael Nagle | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Pedestrians pass in front of the New York Stock Exchange.

Hurricane Harvey's deadly assault on Houston is likely to have a limited effect on the U.S. stock market, two of Wall Street's top strategists said.

In a note to clients Monday, John Stoltzfus, chief investment strategist at Oppenheimer Asset Management, pointed out that losses from hurricanes Katrina and Sandy "were digested and discounted by the markets and the national economy relatively quickly."

"US equity markets have proven in the past to be resilient when facing damage done by hurricanes and other natural disasters. We expect them to respond similarly to the current storm," Stoltzfus said.

Harvey, a Category 4 hurricane that later weakened into a tropical storm, ravaged Houston and other parts of Texas this weekend. Some areas in the state were hit with more than 30 inches of rain.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott activated the state's entire National Guard in response to the aftermath of the hurricane. Roughly 12,000 servicemen will be deployed to assist in ongoing search and rescue efforts.

Shares of insurance companies fell broadly, with Travelers Companies dragging the Dow Jones industrial average lower. The stock was also on track for its worst day of the year.

Refinery stocks, on the other hand, caught a bid from surging gasoline prices. RBOB gasoline futures for September delivery jumped as much as 6.8 percent on Monday. Gasoline prices shot up because of refinery shutdowns in the greater Houston area.

But the broader stock market traded mostly flat on Monday, with the S&P 500 alternating between gains and losses for most of the session.

In another note, Tobias Levkovich, chief U.S. equity strategist at Citigroup, said natural disasters usually have a small impact on the national economy.

"We understand the struggle that Texas will have to overcome but the GDP (and the S&P 500 EPS) impact will probably be far more minimal" than hurricanes Katrina and Sandy, Levkovich said. "Hurricane Katrina left a devastation wake with an estimated $160 billion cost ... while Hurricane Sandy was awful as well (estimated at $75 billion). Harvey has lacked a 'storm surge' thereby limiting its damage generation despite the deaths already incurred."

Levkovich added: "Without trying to diminish the devastating consequences of such weather, the stock market typically does not get roiled even when Sandy knocked out much of lower Manhattan in 2012."

—Reuters contributed to this report.

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