Trump’s conciliatory speech helps soothe market concerns

Photo: AP
Photo: AP

LONDON (AP) — Conciliatory comments from U.S. President-elect Donald Trump in the aftermath of his stunning victory over Hillary Clinton helped global stock markets recover a large chunk of their earlier losses Wednesday.

Though uncertainty remains over Trump’s trade, immigration and geopolitical policies and what his victory means for the future of globalization, investors appeared somewhat calmed by his victory speech, in which he praised Clinton and urged Americans to “come together as one united people” after a divisive campaign.

“While Trump slightly soothed some concerns in his victory speech, uncertainty remains over what kind of a U.S. he plans to lead,” said Craig Erlam, senior market analyst at OANDA.

In Europe, Germany’s DAX was down 0.9 percent at 10,384 while the FTSE 100 index of leading British shares was 0.4 percent lower at 6,818. U.S. stocks are expected to open lower, too, though by far less than earlier predicted. Dow futures are 1.6 percent lower at 17,991 while the broader S&P 500 futures were down 1.7 percent at 2,100.

While those retreats are sizeable, they pale in comparison with the losses registered earlier, particularly in U.S. markets.

As Trump gained the lead in the electoral vote count, share prices tumbled in Asia, which were open during the election results. Dow futures plunged 4 percent at one point.

By the time Trump was confirmed the winner and made his speech, financial markets had steadied. The dollar also recouped some ground, while assets that many investors search out at times of uncertainty, such as gold and the Swiss franc, came off earlier highs. An ounce of gold was up 2.4 percent at $1,305 while the dollar reversed earlier losses to trade 0.1 percent higher at 0.9783 Swiss franc.

One currency that remains heavily sold is the Mexican peso. It was down 8.5 percent as the prospect of a wall along the United States’ southern border — a key campaigning point for Trump — has come one step closer to reality. Trump has insisted that Mexico will pay for the wall. Also potentially impacting the peso is Trump’s threat to rip up trade deals like the North American Free Trade Agreement, a key plank in Mexico’s economic strategy and growth.

“If Trump is able to follow through with these suggestions, Mexican activity will suffer greatly,” said Jane Foley, senior foreign exchange strategist at Rabobank International.

Trump doesn’t formally take the reins of power until January but he will begin the transition to his presidency almost immediately. In the coming weeks, investors will be looking to see if he further tempers some of the rhetoric that polarized American opinion and often spooked investors in financial markets.

One immediate impact of his victory could see the U.S. Federal Reserve opting against an interest rate hike at its next meeting in mid-December — especially if financial markets endure a period of pressure.

“Less chance of a Fed rate hike also helps keep investors smiling at the prospect of cheap money and accommodative global monetary policy stance for a while longer,” said Mike van Dulken, an analyst at Accendo Markets.

Another point of interest will center on the U.S.’s trade relations with China and its impact across Asia. Trump’s victory has raised concerns that the U.S. and China might embark on a trade war of sorts and that protectionism around the world will grow.

Those concerns weighed heavily on Asian stocks. Japan’s Nikkei 225 index, for example, closed 5.4 percent lower, recouping some losses, at 16,251.54. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng closed 2.2 percent lower to 22,415.19 while the main index in Shanghai fell 0.6 percent to 3,128.77.

“Investors will right now be in the process of attempting to differentiate between Trump’s actual policy positions and some of the more outlandish statements made on the campaign trail,” said Michael Levy, an emerging markets investment director at Barings.

South Korea’s trade ministry has already held an emergency meeting to review prospects of U.S. trade policies after the presidential elections, while top officials from Japan’s central bank and finance ministry met to discuss how to cope with the gyrations in financial markets.

For financial markets as a whole, Trump’s victory is the latest manifestation of a backlash against globalization.

Christopher Mahon, Director of Asset Allocation Research at Barings, says Trump’s victory is an example of people believing that inequalities in society are a result of globalization. That belief, he says, was behind the unrest in Greece during that country’s debt crisis over the past few years as well as Britain’s vote in June to leave the European Union.

Mahon says “globalization and the liberal economic consensus is in full retreat” if Trump doesn’t temper his views.

“It is clear that this next president will have a profound effect on global markets,” he said

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Chan contributed from Hong Kong.