HONG KONG (AFP) - Asian markets fell yesterday following declines on Wall Street as the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump weighed on sentiment.
Political turmoil in Washington following the release of a whistleblower’s complaint overshadowed positive comments from Trump on US-China trade talks and steps towards a new agreement with Japan.
The incendiary complaint alleges Trump sought to enlist Ukraine to help his 2020 campaign and then conspired with staff to cover it up.
“The market isn’t clear on what to make of the latest impeachment developments in the US, and this continues to increase uncertainly and could be weighing on investor sentiment,” Stephen Innes, Asia Pacific market strategist at AxiTrader, said in a note. “Compounding this uncertainty is the stark reality that most of the global economy is moving in reverse while omnipresent geopolitical unease ensures the market remains in a constant wobble on a forever shifting trade war axis.”
In Asia, Tokyo closed down 0.8 percent as many shares went ex-dividend and Seoul dropped 1.2 percent.
Hong Kong slipped 0.3 percent while Shanghai ended 0.1 percent higher with trade cautious ahead of a weeklong holiday to mark the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China. Singapore, Malaysia and Taiwan retreated while Sydney rose 0.6 percent, one of the few Asian markets to see any gains.
European markets opened higher, with London up 0.5 percent, Frankfurt adding 0.3 percent and Paris also 0.3 percent higher.
On forex markets, the pound fell to US$1.2290 as a policy maker said the Bank of England may need to cut rates.
“The pound slipped back to two week lows against the US dollar in early trading on comments from Bank of England MPC member Michael Saunders who said that rate cuts might be needed even if the UK were to get a Brexit deal,” said Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets UK.
“This is significant as Saunders has traditionally been a hawkish voice on the monetary policy committee.”
Elsewhere, crude prices slipped following the swift recovery in Saudi production following attacks on its oil infrastructure two weeks ago.
Both main contracts were lower, with WTI down 0.1 percent and Brent off 0.3 percent.
The market has been trading lower as oil bulls have been discouraged by quicker than expected return of Saudi oil output,” said AxiTrader’s Innes. Investors were also awaiting US inflation, durable goods and personal income data due later Friday for a take on the world’s biggest economy. “With the US consumer, the last man standing still to take cover from the global slowdown, a poor read from these numbers has the potential to floor equities and end the week on a sour note,” said Jeffrey Halley, senior market analyst at OANDA.