Asian stocks fall as US election worries linger

Bloomberg

Sun, Nov 06, 2016 - Page 14

Asian stocks headed for the first back-to-back weekly drop in two months amid a global selloff as investors grew increasingly anxious before Tuesday’s US presidential election.

Democratic US presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton, who is holding on to a narrow lead over her Republican rival, Donald Trump, in most polls, has seen her position tested after the FBI reopened a probe into an unauthorized e-mail server.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index on Friday fell 0.9 percent to 136.67 as of 4:10pm in Hong Kong, set for a 1.5 percent weekly decline. The index was poised for its first consecutive weekly drop since the start of September, as Clinton’s commanding lead in opinion polls dwindled.

A Bank of America Corp gauge tracking volatility expectations in global stocks, bonds, currencies and commodities has climbed for seven straight days through Wednesday, the longest streak since December 2013.

“Markets have reacted with cautiousness to political uncertainty,” London-based CMC Markets PLC analyst Jasper Lawler said. “Investors are not panicking, but have been paralyzed into inaction.”

Investors have also weighed meetings this week at the Bank of Japan and the US Federal Reserve, with both standing pat on monetary policy.

The Fed signaled it was ready to raise US borrowing costs at its meeting next month.

Taiwanese shares on Friday closed almost flat after falling for four consecutive sessions, as investors remained cautious ahead of the US presidential election, dealers said.

The weighted index on the Taiwan Stock Exchange gained 0.88 points, or 0.01 percent, to close at 9,068.15. The index was 2.6 percent lower than the previous week’s close at 9,306.92.

Japan’s TOPIX posted its first weekly drop in three weeks. More than 130 TOPIX companies reported earnings on Friday. Of the firms that have already posted results and for which Bloomberg has estimates, about two-thirds missed projections for sales while about half fell short of predictions for profit.

Indonesian shares climbed 0.1 percent for their first gain in four days, paring a weekly drop. Thousands of protesters crowded Jakarta’s streets in a rally organized by Muslim groups to demand that the Christian governor of Jakarta face jail over claims he insulted the Koran.

Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index lost 0.9 percent. New Zealand’s S&P/NZX 50 Index fell 1 percent after entering a correction this week, tumbling 11 percent from this year’s peak in September.

Singapore equities slumped for a sixth day to a June low.

Indian stocks headed for a four-month low as healthcare companies tumbled amid a US probe on producers of generic drugs.

South Korea’s KOSPI slipped 0.1 percent after touching the lowest level since July on Wednesday amid a scandal over influence-peddling allegations that is engulfing South Korean President Park Geun-hye.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index lost 0.2 percent and the Shanghai Composite slipped 0.1 percent. The Hang Seng China Enterprises index added 0.1 percent.

Philippine stocks rose 0.9 percent to end a nine-day slump. The stock gauge on Wednesday entered a correction after falling more than 10 percent from a July peak.

Genting Singapore PLC surged 11 percent, the largest gain among shares on the MSCI Asia Pacific Index, after earnings at the casino operator topped estimates.

Additional reporting by CNA