Uncertainty in markets as Trump era dawns

Peter Trute
(Australian Associated Press)


Donald Trump’s election as US president is set to send a shockwave through global stocks following a plunge on Australian and Asian share markets on Wednesday.

Australia’s market was first to feel the brunt of investor fear for what the controversial Republican’s ascendancy to the White House will mean for global trade and politics, given his staunch opposition to free trade deals and strong criticism of China, the world’s second-largest economy.

After Australia’s benchmark S&P/ASX200 closed at a four-month low, the rout continued across Asia with Japan’s Nikkei index down 5.4 per cent and Hong Kong dropping three per cent.

In the US, futures trading showed the Dow Jones index was also set to open more than three per cent lower for the US Wednesday trading session.

More than $35 billion was wiped from the value of Australian shares and the Aussie dollar also took a hit against its US counterpart, even as the greenback fell against the euro and the yen.

The Aussie dollar hit a six-month high in morning trade as Hillary Clinton looked set to win but the currency closed sharply lower at 76.19 US cents, down from 77.04 US cents on Tuesday afternoon, in the wake of Mr Trump’s surge to victory.

Bonds and gold gained as investors flocked to safe havens.

Uncertainty is likely to be the tone of global markets in coming days.

ANZ Bank researchers said the market volatility “clearly reflects enormous uncertainty”.

“Simply, perceptions of heightened US economic nationalism are omnipresent,” ANZ said.

Markets are also dealing with the uncertainty created by Mr Trump’s inexperience in public office, his foreign policies and the budgetary impact of his tax policies.

Foreign exchange traders at RBC Capital Markets said the flight from risk in currency markets is likely to continue until Mr Trump’s intentions as president become clear.

“Trump has been relatively quiet in recent weeks, so the next cue for investors will come from his acceptance speech and policy plans,” RBC said.

“Longer-term, this is a big jump into policy uncertainty but it seems likely to lead to rising protectionism. That would favour countries with stronger domestic demand and hurt small open economies.”

CommSec economist Craig James said a more isolationist America – a central Trump policy – would be negative for the global economy and especially trade-reliant nations such as Australia.

“If the US adopted a more confrontationist policy toward China, then this would place downward pressure on the Aussie dollar,” Mr James said, noting a weaker Australian currency would help exporters.


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