Asian markets cautious amid first presidential debate

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HONG KONG: Asian markets fluctuated Tuesday as all eyes turned to the first presidential debate between battling US presidential candidates Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.

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The two White House hopefuls, in a virtual dead heat in polls with barely six weeks before the November 8 election, took the stage in what was set to be the most watched US political event in years.

“The first of three US presidential candidate debates during today’s Asia Pacific trading session will likely dominate action as markets search for the winner and their eventual economic policy stance,” Michael McCarthy, chief market strategist in Sydney at CMC Markets, said in an email note.

“Markets are searching for the least worse option between the two US candidates… Any perception that the outsider candidate won the debate could bring a market rout.”

The looming debate, as well as reports that Berlin has refused state aid to fortify Germany’s Deutsche Bank as it faces a multibillion-dollar fine in the United States, had helped send global markets broadly lower Monday.

Tokyo followed the trend dropping 0.3 percent by the break, but had pared early losses as investors focused on the debate.

The dollar also strengthened against the Japanese currency during the debate, buying 100.70 yen, from 100.38 yen in early trade.

A weaker currency is a plus for Japan’s exporters, as it boosts the overseas profitability of exporters.

Angus Nicholson, a Melbourne-based market analyst at IG Ltd., told Bloomberg the shift could possibly be a result of Clinton doing well during the debate.

“Trump is largely regarded as a market negative and certainly him doing quite poorly in the debate would reassure a lot of investors,” he said.

Sydney fell 0.7 percent while Jakarta, Manila and Taipei were also down.

Some other Asian markets shrugged off Wall Street’s losses. Hong Kong stocks were up 0.8 percent, while Seoul rose 0.3 percent and Shanghai was flat.

Oil however reversed the previous day’s gains in Asia as a producers meeting in Algeria looms.

Members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries will meet Wednesday with key non-OPEC producer Russia, on the sidelines of the International Energy Forum.

West Texas Intermediate was down 32 cents to $45.61 while Brent declined 38 cents to $46.97.

“The markets are waiting for more news out of Algeria. Trading has been thin so what we’re seeing is mostly early-morning profit taking in Asia,” OANDA senior market analyst Jeffrey Halley told Agence France-Presse.

– Key figures around 0300 GMT  (11:00 AM MANILA TIME) –

Tokyo – Nikkei 225: DOWN 0.3 percent at 16,490.41

Hong Kong – Hang Seng: UP 0.8 percent at 23,511.86

Shanghai – Composite: UP 0.04 percent at 2,981.620

Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.1244 from $1.1254 late Monday

Dollar/yen: UP at 100.70 yen from 100.30 yen

Pound/dollar: UP at $1.2981 from $1.2976

New York – DOW: DOWN 0.9 percent at 18,094.83 (close)

London – FTSE 100: DOWN 1.3 percent at 6,818.04 (close)

AFP

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