AFP: Asian traders headed into the weekend on a nervous note yesterday as a pick-up in US stocks and positive data were offset by worries about a crisis engulfing Donald Trump’s presidency that could throw his economic
agenda into doubt.
Markets in the region were rocked Thursday by claims by recently fired FBI boss James Comey that the president pressed him to drop a probe into ex-national security advisor Michael Flynn’s links to Moscow.
That came a day after it was reported Trump had divulged classified information to Russia’s foreign minister, fanning further allegations about his own ties to the country’s leaders. The reports compounded a crisis at the White House that has led to calls for the tycoon to be impeached, fanning fears that his plans for tax cuts and ramped up infrastructure spending could be knocked off course.
Trump on Thursday slapped down the accusations against him and said he was the victim of the “greatest witch hunt” in American political history.
US dealers who on Wednesday saw Wall Street suffer its heaviest losses since Trump’s November election were cheered by better-than-forecast jobs claims figures and manufacturing data, helping the three main indexes to post small gains. In Asian trade Tokyo ended up 0.2 percent, Hong Kong gained 0.2 percent and Seoul put on 0.1 percent while Shanghai was flat and Sydney eased 0.2 percent. Singapore was also flat, while Taipei retreated.
And in early European trade London rose 0.3 percent, while Paris and Frankfurt each rose 0.1 percent.
Ric Spooner, a market strategist at CMC Markets, said: “While investors will be relieved that yesterday’s selling looks unlikely to be repeated today, it’s too early to assume yesterday was a one-day wonder.
“Markets have clearly decided that the US political situation has the potential to knock stock valuations off their relatively high perch.”
The dollar also managed to claw back some losses, having tumbled to seven-month euro lows but analysts said Trump’s troubles were unlikely to throw the Federal Reserve off its course of raising interest rates next month and the unit would continue to face headwinds.
“The US remains completely engulfed in the Trump Comey storyline, and the (dollar) will continue to be unalluring until further clarity is forthcoming on the special investigation,” Stephen Innes, senior trader at OANDA, said in a note.