FBI's latest probe into Clinton email server rattles Asian markets

WASHINGTON, U.S. - Asian stocks got off to a shaky start on Monday morning following news of a revived FBI investigation into Democrat presidential candidate Hillary Clinton's email server ...


• U.S. election uncertainty worries markets

• U.S. currency gains some ground following Friday's selloff

• Markets, in general, hoping for a Clinton victory

WASHINGTON, U.S. - Asian stocks got off to a shaky start on Monday morning following news of a revived FBI investigation into Democrat presidential candidate Hillary Clinton's email server while she was U.S. secretary of state, with just over a week left for the November 8 election.

The news sent U.S. stocks tumbling and the dollar taking a hit on Friday. The dollar was slightly higher against the yen and the euro during Asia trade on Monday, as the U.S. currency gained some ground following Friday's selloff.

This sell-off filtered through to Asia. 

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan hit a six-week low on Monday before recovering up 0.2 percent. It is set to end the month down 1.6 percent.

Japan’s Nikkei, which touched a six-month high on Friday, slipped 0.4 percent on Monday, but remains poised for a monthly increase of 5.5 percent.

South Korea's Kospi also shed 0.4 percent, to 2,010.41. Hong Kong's Hang Seng, first declined, but then rose 0.2 percent to 23,003.08 while the Shanghai Composite Index fell 0.4 percent to 3,092.20. 

Australia's S&P/ASX 200, however, added 0.7 percent to 5,322.70. Benchmarks in Taiwan and Singapore also fell. 

On Friday, Wall Street and the dollar closed lower, after FBI Director James Comey sent a letter to the U.S. Congress informing it that the bureau is again reviewing the probe into Clinton's private server. The timing of the letter, so close to the presidential polls, was criticised by top U.S. Justice Department officials.
Meanwhile, the Mexican peso, closely affected by developments in the U.S. election race, was nearly unchanged at 18.96 a dollar midday in the Asia session compared with late Friday in New York. 

Market players cautioned, however, that the consequences of the FBI's move are far from clear and that the peso, seen as the best barometer of the market's perception on the U.S. election, could slip further depending on the presidential poll results. 

Mexico is considered to be the most vulnerable to Republican Donald Trump's protectionist policy as the country sends 80 percent of its exports to the United States.
An upswing in the markets is tied to expectations that Hillary Clinton will win the U.S. presidential race. 

According to the most recent polls, the gap between Clinton and Republican nominee Donald Trump has closed considerably, prompting investors to buy the Japanese currency, a haven asset traditionally sought out in periods of geopolitical and financial instability. 

In a recent ABC News/Washington Post poll, Clinton's lead over Trump shrank to 1 percent by Sunday from 12 percent just about a week ago. 

The possibility of a Trump win spooked the markets, as the Republican is considered a loose cannon and his views on economic policy are unclear.

In addition, dealers are nervously awaiting a series of key events this week, including central bank policy meetings in Japan and the U.S. as well as the release of U.S. jobs figures on Friday.

Oil prices also fell - dragging energy firms lower - following the failure last week of OPEC to hammer out details of an agreement to cut output in the face of a global supply glut.
The lack of a deal in Vienna on Friday raised questions about the ability of the group to deliver the reductions and came just days after OPEC member Iraq and non-member Russia said they felt they should be exempt.

European markets also looked set for a shaky start, with financial spreadbetter CMC Markets expecting Britain's FTSE 100, France's CAC 40 and Germany's DAX to all open down 0.1 percent. 

On Friday, Europe’s index of leading 300 shares closed down 0.35 percent; Germany’s DAX slipped by 0.19 percent and the STOXX 600 fell 0.27 percent.

Investors have some important data releases this week on their radar, as well as earnings from big companies such as Sony and Honda. 

 

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