Published:  12:00 AM, 12 January 2017

Trump policy energizes US stock

US: Stocks up as stronger job gains boost optimism for economy.

Donald Trump once described Jamie Dimon as "the worst banker in the United States," but the president-elect has helped make the boss of JPMorgan Chase & Co  $50 million richer. Dimon is the top beneficiary among the 30 chief executives who run companies in the Dow Jones Industrial Average index from a stock rally inspired by Trump's election, according to a Reuters analysis of their option grants.

Trump's proposed policies for lower taxes, less Wall Street regulation and more infrastructure spending have energized the US stock market since the real estate magnate's Nov. 8 victory. The post-election rally even resurrected the value of an option award held by Goldman Sachs Group Inc CEO Lloyd Blankfein that was worthless on the eve of the election. Dimon, a lifelong Democrat, has seen his stock options surge in value by more than $50 million to $146 million since the Republican candidate's White House win.

Trump criticized Dimon in 2013 for reaching a $13 billion settlement with the U.S. government over the sale of toxic mortgages instead of fighting the case. Nevertheless, he appointed Dimon to the President's Strategic and Policy Forum, a group of high-profile business leaders he set up last month to advise him on economic growth and job creation.

Dimon declined to comment on Trump's criticism or the rise in value of his holdings. Stock options held by Dow 30 CEOs surged in value by 23 percent to about $1 billion in 2016, with most of the gain coming after Trump's election win. The figures reflect outstanding stock options that could be exercised at the end of 2015. Options that expired or vested in 2016 were excluded from the analysis.

In a few cases, CEOs exercised some of those options during 2016, U.S. regulatory filings show. Visa Inc CEO Charles Scharf did not need a Trump-led stock rally to hit the jackpot. About two weeks before the election, he exercised nearly 800,000 options for gross proceeds of almost $33 million, US regulatory filings show. He resigned from Visa effective Dec.

1. For a look at how the post-election rally has affected Dow 30 stock options, click here (tmsnrt.rs/2iCbvvT)Trump campaigned on the slogan "Make America Great Again," vowing to bolster the prospects of the American working class by preventing jobs from moving abroad, restricting immigration and renegotiating trade pacts. In 2015, Trump called high salaries paid to CEOs a "joke" and a "disgrace" and said these were often approved by company boards stacked with CEOs' friends.

To be sure, Trump's election has helped investors big and small. Hopes of a pro-business agenda have driven the Dow 30 close to 20,000 - a level it has never breached - in a boon for workers' retirement plans. "With the recent Trump/Republican win, it appears that investors are getting more excited about potential growth and animal spirits are on the rise," top investment strategists at Morgan Stanley said this month in a wealth management report. "This is likely to lead to the final euphoric stage of this cyclical bull market which could be quite powerful in 2017's first half."

Big stock option gains for Goldman Sachs head Blankfein, American Express Co  CEO Kenneth Chenault and JP Morgan's Dimon may be a surprise, given that their companies have reduced or even eliminated option grants in recent years in favor of stock awards tied to hitting financial targets.

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