Asia falls as White House turmoil spoils risk sentiment, dollar bruised
18 May 2017, 08:11 | Katrina Lee
Asian stocks briefly hit two-year highs as outlook darkens
"The greenback's surprising gains that were made right after the USA elections have completely evaporated now, really making a mock of all those "The Mighty Dollar" headlines that we saw this winter, " said Stefan Koopman, market economist at Rabobank International.
Yet, US political turmoil and softer-than-expected US economic data in the past week, such as retail sales, consumer inflation and housing starts, is leading market players to discount the chance of more rate hikes.
Futures pointed to a 0.3% opening gain for the S&P 500, after a 1.8% drop on Wednesday interrupted a period of unusual calm in the U.S. The WSJ Dollar Index was up 0.2% on Thursday after erasing its postelection gains.
Europe's bourses dropped between 0.8 and 1.3 percent as the selling pressure built again and Wall Street was expected to open down as much as 0.5 percent, having suffered its biggest thumping in over eight months on Wednesday.
"Worries about European politics and North Korea have receded". Hong Kong's technology sector, for example, is the most expensive, trading at a price-to-earnings multiple of more than 42 times. "We're getting into stall mode because of the early expectations for the Trump presidency".
The Philippine Stock Exchange Index was down 0.88 percent to 7,757.69.
Reports that Trump asked then-FBI Director James Comey to end a probe into the former national security adviser have raised questions over whether Trump tried to interfere with a federal investigation.
The news comes on the heels of a tumultuous week at the White House when Trump unexpectedly fired Comey and reportedly disclosed classified information to Russia's foreign minister about a planned Islamic State operation.
The White House quickly denied the New York Times report, saying in a statement it was "not a truthful or accurate portrayal of the conversation between the president and Mr. Comey".
The region's shares showed little reaction to news that former Federal Bureau of Investigation chief Robert Mueller was appointed to investigate alleged Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election, although the S&P mini futures were a shade higher while the dollar bounced modestly against the safe-haven yen.
MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan dropped 0.5 percent.
It last stood at 97.588, flat from late USA trade, and down more than 2 percent over the past four sessions.
The euro extended its overnight surge to touch US$1.1174, its highest since November.
The euro zone GDP grew 0.5 percent in January-March, in line with expectations, and underscoring a recovery in the currency bloc.
On the other hand, US economic data published on Tuesday was mixed, raising more doubts about some rosy views on the USA economy. The dollar bought 112.35 yen, well down from recent peaks above 114 yen seen last week.
The political wranglings come amid increasing concern about the pace of the global economy, after weaker-than-expected readings on US inflation and GDP.
"Until Friday, markets had been focusing only on the bright side of the US economy".
On Tuesday, Yahoo Finance's Sam Ro highlighted commentary from Greg Valliere, chief global strategist at Horizon Investments, who said that "nothing" is likely to derail markets. "That is going to be easier said than done, it appears, with USA production running at its fastest pace since August 2015 and data yesterday confirming that Chinese growth momentum continues to moderate", ANZ strategists wrote in a daily note.
US crude fell 1.27 percent to $48.23 per barrel, and Brent was last at $51.22, down 1.16 percent.
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