HONG KONG- Most Asian markets extended gains on hopes Hillary Clinton will beat Donald Trump in Tuesday’s presidential election but traders are cautious, with many opinion polls saying the race is too close to call.
Global equities and risk assets surged Monday after the FBI said it would not pursue criminal charges against Clinton over her use of a private email server while secretary of state.
The rally followed a week of turmoil sparked by the bureau’s announcement on October 28 it was looking into the issue, despite having cleared her once already in July.
Clinton is considered by many investors to be a safer bet than Trump, who is seen as a loose cannon with policies many fear could wreck the world’s top economy.
Hong Kong rose 0.5 percent, Sydney ended up 0.1 percent, Seoul gained 0.3 percent and Singapore was 0.3 percent higher.
Wellington, Taipei and Manila also posted healthy advances but Tokyo closed marginally lower.
Shanghai added 0.5 percent after investors brushed off news that Chinese exports fell for a seventh consecutive month in October, as weak global demand put another dent in the world’s number two economy.
In early European trade London dipped 0.1 percent while Paris was 0.2 percent lower and Frankfurt was flat.
“We’ve been swung this way and that over who may win, but expectations of a Clinton victory are firming,” said Toshihiko Matsuno, a senior strategist at SMBC Friend Securities Co.
“Since it’s easier to predict policy with her, there’s more of a sense of security in the market. Stocks may price in 70 to 80 percent (chance) of a Clinton victory today,” he told Bloomberg News.
The advances follow big gains in New York Monday where the S&P 500 ended a nine-day losing streak to rise 2.2 percent, its biggest gain since March. The Dow and Nasdaq each finished more than two percent higher. Frankfurt, London and Paris soared close to two percent Monday.
Also, the Vix volatility index, a benchmark for investor fears, declined after nine straight days of gains.
The Mexican peso was also enjoying continued buying interest, recovering the losses suffered last week. The unit is considered a reflection of Trump’s chances because of his anti-Mexican rhetoric —including his pledge to remove undocumented immigrants, build a border wall and tear up a trade deal.
In Asia the dollar bought 18.5689 pesos, from 18.6463 pesos in New York, and well down from the levels approaching 20 pesos touched last week.
The upbeat mood also lifted high-yielding, or riskier, currencies in Asia, with Australia’s dollar, the South Korean won, Indonesian rupiah, Thai baht and Malaysian ringgit all up against the greenback.
However, there remains unease with Trump having rallied from a double-digit deficit in some polls to within striking distance of Clinton, while analysts pointed to June’s shock EU exit vote in Britain.
Imre Speizer, a market strategist at Westpac Banking Corp. in Wellington, warned: “A Trump win would cause a major reversal of the recent moves, so markets will be mostly preoccupied by the election during the day ahead.”
And Craig Erlam, senior market analyst at OANDA, added in a note: “The problem is the market has been complacent in the not too distant past, having left itself very exposed to Brexit, which resulted in some very aggressive moves in the early hours of June 24.”