HONG KONG: Asian stocks retreated Monday as news that the FBI would further probe Hillary Clinton’s emails fuelled fresh uncertainty about the outcome of the US presidential election just eight days before the vote.
Traders globally had broadly expected Democratic candidate and Wall Street favourite Clinton to sweep to victory, with her rival Donald Trump considered a loose cannon.
But FBI chief James Comey’s announcement that he was again looking at her use of a private email server while serving as secretary of state sent shudders through trading floors, with US stocks tumbling and the dollar taking a hit.
The sell-off filtered through to Asia, where dealers are also nervously awaiting a series of key events this week, including central bank policy meetings in Japan and the US as well as the release of US jobs figures Friday.
Trading conditions this week will be “slippery and shifty”, said Stephen Innes, senior trader at forex firm OANDA.
“The calendar is full of high-risk events making for a treacherous path to navigate in the lead up the monumental November 8 US election,” he said in a note.
Tokyo’s Nikkei ended the morning session 0.4 percent lower, Hong Kong was down 0.6 percent and Shanghai shed 0.4 percent. Seoul and Singapore each sank 0.4 percent and Taipei gave up 0.7 percent. However, Sydney edged up 0.2 percent.
Mexican peso struggles
The development also weighed on the dollar, which fell to 104.73 yen in New York Friday from 105.30 yen earlier in the day in Asia. On Monday it was at 104.71 yen.
But the greenback was stronger against the Mexican peso on worries about a possible Trump win after he promised to tear up a trade deal between the two countries and threatened build a wall on their border.
The dollar bought 18.9686 pesos in Asia, having broken 19.10 pesos Friday, and well up from the 18.8190 on Thursday.
“Until the election, the general theme will be uncertainty, which will have implications not just on the stock market, but on the dollar and Treasuries,” Chad Morganlander, a money manager at Stifel, Nicolaus & Co in the US, told Bloomberg News.
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.