Markets nervous as knife-edge US election looms

‘Trump risk is in revival’ say analysts as markets anxiety level moves ‘up a gear’

Market jitters as Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s “risk” returns in polls one week ahead of election. Photograph: Reuters

Market jitters as Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s “risk” returns in polls one week ahead of election. Photograph: Reuters

 

A global equities selloff deepened in Asian trading and Mexico’s peso weakened as polls indicated a tightening race ahead of next week’s American presidential election.

The yen gained with the Swiss franc and gold as investors favoured haven assets. The MSCI Asia Pacific Index dropped by the most since September and futures signalled further losses for US equities after the SandP 500 Index sank to its lowest since July.

The yen rose for a second day, while the Swiss franc and gold were near their highest levels in almost a month.

New Zealand’s dollar strengthened as jobs data damped prospects for interest-rate cuts in the nation and US Treasuries edged higher ahead of a Federal Reserve policy decision.

Crude oil fell after a report showed American stockpiles expanded.

An ABC News/Washington Post tracking poll on Tuesday showed Republican Donald Trump with 46 per cent support to Democrat Hillary Clinton’s 45 per cent, putting him ahead for the first time since May.

Poll aggregator FiveThirtyEight estimates that the chance of a Clinton victory has fallen by about 10 per centage points in the past week to 72 per cent and a Bank of America index tracking volatility expectations in equities, bonds, currencies and commodities rose for five days through Monday,the longest run of increases since before the British vote to quit the European Union.

“The markets’ anxiety levels have moved up a gear,” said Chris Weston, Melbourne-based chief market strategist at IG. This “suggests the bears have the upper hand, with the buying drying up and funds keeping their cash deployed for more certain times,” he said.

While the Fed is expected to leave policy unchanged when a two-day meeting concludes on Wednesday, futures indicate a 68 per cent chance interest rates will be raised in December.

Market volatility

Bloomberg’s dollar index retreated over the last three days as some analysts said a Trump victory could spur volatility in financial markets and reduce the odds of borrowing costs being hiked.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index declined 1.3 per cent as of 1:36pm Tokyo time. Japan’s Topix index slid more than 2 per cent, retreating from its highest close since April before the nation’s financial markets shut on Thursday for a holiday, and South Korea’s Kospi index fell to its lowest level in almost four months.

“The Trump risk is in revival,” said Chihiro Ohta, a Tokyo-based senior strategist at SMBC Nikko Securities.

“With Trump, there always follows an uneasiness over whether policies will be managed properly in the US, and given the holiday tomorrow in Japan, there’s no need to build positions at an uncertain time like this.”

Sony sank to a two-month low after the Japanese electronics maker reported a quarterly profit that missed analysts’ estimates.

Sumitomo Electric Industries tumbled more than 10 per cent after the company lowered its full-year earnings target by 15 per cent.

Standard Chartered plunged by the most since June in Hong Kong after reporting a lower-than-expected profit and revenue declines for all four of its divisions.

Futures on the SandP 500 Index fell 0.3 per cent after the underlying gauge slipped 0.7 per cent in the last session.

- Bloomberg