First came Ford and Carrier. Now Boeing and SoftBank are experiencing the power of Donald Trump’s Twitter feed.
The president-elect jumped into corporate affairs again Tuesday, tweeting first to criticize one company and then to hail another. He began at 8:52 a.m. New York time by calling out Boeing Co. over costs to develop new Air Force One jets. Just over five hours later he celebrated a $50 billion investment in the U.S. by Japanese telecommunications firm SoftBank Group Corp.
The tweets, coming after Trump last week announced a deal with United Technologies Corp. to cancel plans to close a U.S. factory, dominated news and moved markets even as details in both cases remained sketchy and the impacts unclear. Trump again showed a willingness to use his bully pulpit to criticize or congratulate companies over actions affecting American workers and government spending.
“This is extraordinary,” said Mohan Tatikonda, a professor at Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business. “For a president to get involved at the level of spot locations, spot companies, spot plants, is I think unprecedented.”
The president-elect’s moves had consequences for the market, with Boeing falling as much as 1.5 percent before regular trading. The shares rose less than 0.1 percent to $152.24 at the close in New York.
Sprint Corp., which is controlled by SoftBank and is the No. 4 U.S. wireless carrier, rose 1.5 percent to $8.17 at the close. T-Mobile US Inc., which has long been mentioned as a possible merger partner for Sprint, rose 1.8 percent to $55.99 on speculation that SoftBank Chief Masayoshi Son’s pledges could aid an eventual deal.
A president who’s too eager to pick winners and losers may prompt business owners to seek special treatment in Washington instead of focusing on improving operations, said Anne Krueger, an economics professor at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies.