HONG KONG: The dollar soared against high-yielding currencies and Asian emerging markets sank on Friday on the prospect of higher US interest rates, with dealers betting Donald Trump’s planned huge spending policies will fire inflation.
Despite an all-time high close on Wall Street, investors across Asia turned cautious on uncertainties linked to a Trump presidency, while the Mexican peso fell back towards record lows on worries about the firebrand tycoon’s anti-Mexico stance.
After an initial shock, global equities rocketed on news Trump had beaten Hillary Clinton, with investors hoping for business-friendly policies and measures to boost the US economy, a key driver of world growth.
However, there are worries about his plans after saying he will tear up several trade deals while ramping up import duties.
And expectations that Trump’s plans for huge spending projects will fan prices have lit a fire under the dollar as dealers bet the Federal Reserve will hike borrowing costs more aggressively to keep prices under control.
That in turn has led to fears of huge capital outflows from the region as investors go back to the US for better, safer returns.
The greenback almost hit 107 yen for the first time since July in US trade and it maintained most of the gains in Asia, sitting at 106.62 yen — well up from the 101.20 yen touched in the initial panic of Trump’s win.
It also surged against the high-yielding units as dealers worry about Trump’s protectionist plans. The Indonesian rupiah plunged more than five percent, Australia’s dollar was down two percent and Malaysia’s ringgit lost one percent.
The South Korean won was 1.6 percent lower after the country’s central bank held interest rates at record lows.
And China weakened its yuan reference rate to beyond 6.8 against the dollar for the first time in more than six years, with analysts warning the unit could drop further.
The dollar was also up 3.3 percent at 20.64 Mexican pesos, close to its all-time highs.
The unit — as well as the Mexican stock market — has been hammered by fears Trump will follow through on campaign pledges to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), as well as pressure the country to pay billions of dollars for a giant border wall.
“The dollar is up against most major currencies supported by an upward revision to US interest expectations and focus on President-elect Donald Trump’s pro-growth and inflationary economic policies,” Elias Haddad, a senior currency strategist at Commonwealth Bank of Australia, told Bloomberg News.
“Trump’s economic policies will force the Fed to raise the funds rate at a faster pace than otherwise, which is dollar bullish.”
On equities markets, skittish investors sent Hong Kong 1.5 percent lower and Seoul 0.9 percent down, while Taipei, Manila and Jakarta were all down around two percent.
Japan’s Nikkei ended the morning up 0.3 percent as the weaker yen boosted exporters, although it was down from earlier highs, while Shanghai was up 0.2 percent and Sydney put on 0.3 percent.
Key figures around 0230 GMT
Tokyo – Nikkei 225: UP 0.3 percent at 17,393.72 (break)
Hong Kong – Hang Seng: DOWN 1.5 percent at 22,504.54
Shanghai – Composite: UP 0.2 percent at 3,176.88
Dollar/yen: DOWN at 106.62 yen from 106.84 yen Thursday
Euro/dollar: UP at $1.0914 from $1.0895
Pound/dollar: UP at $1.2568 from $1.2552
Dollar/Mexican peso: UP at 20.64 pesos from 19.63 pesos
Oil – West Texas Intermediate: DOWN 24 cents at $44.42 per barrel
Oil – Brent North Sea: DOWN 18 cents at $45.66
New York – Dow: UP 1.2 percent at 18,807.88 (close)
London – FTSE 100: DOWN 1.2 percent at 6,827.98 (close)