Dollar loses altitude, Asia shares at 11-week top
SYDNEY – The US dollar nursed widespread losses on Thursday after President-elect Donald Trump’s long-awaited news briefing provided scant clarity on future fiscal policies, disappointing bulls wagering on major stimulus.
Yet neither did Trump mention possible tariffs against Chinese exports, a relief for Asian share markets that have feared the outbreak of a global trade war. It was enough to help MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan climb 0.8 percent to its highest since late October.
Australia’s main index added 0.3 percent, aided by strength in bulk commodity prices, while Shanghai stocks were flat. Going the other way, Japan’s Nikkei slipped 0.9 percent as the yen climbed on a retreating dollar.
Wall Street had overcome its brief wobble to end Wednesday firmer. The Dow added 0.5 percent, while the S&P 500 gained 0.28 percent and the Nasdaq 0.21 percent.
Health stocks were not so lucky after Trump said pharmaceutical companies were “getting away with murder” by charging high prices. The S&P 500 healthcare index 1 percent, while the Nasdaq biotechnology index sank 2.96 percent.
Trump’s first news conference since the Nov. 8 election contained no details on tax cuts and infrastructure spending, two factors that had fueled the five-week rally in stocks and a selloff in global bond markets.
“President elect Trump’s first news conference since late July has left a veritable laundry list of questions unanswered for markets,” wrote analysts at Westpac.
“The news conference was a far cry from the market friendly, pro-growth “presidential” comments that Trump delivered at his acceptance speech on 9 Nov,” they added. “The issue is that markets arguably priced in too much reflation without any solid policy detail.”
The uncertainty about what policies will actually be pursued has seen yields on 10-year Treasury notes rally from a 2.64 percent peak over the last month to stand at 2.349 percent on Thursday.
The U.S. dollar, likewise, has had to surrender some of its gains in the last week or so. Wednesday’s session was especially volatile with the dollar rallying hard into the Trump event, only to recoil at his vagueness on policy.
The dollar index was nursing a grudge at 101.520 on Thursday, having been as high as 102.950 at one stage overnight. The euro had rallied to $1.0602 from a trough of $1.0454, while the dollar lapsed to 114.79 yen from a top of 116.87. Sterling also bounced from a 10-week low of $1.2048 to stand at $1.2184.
In commodity markets, oil was a shade softer after data showed rising U.S. crude inventories. US crude was trading 7 cents lower at $52.18, though that followed gains of nearly 3 percent overnight. Brent crude was off 3 cents at $55.07 a barrel. -Reuters