Dollar down, markets muted in Asia after Obama win

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 07 November, 2012, 3:49pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 07 November, 2012, 4:10pm

The dollar slipped in Asian trade on Wednesday, while share markets were muted after President Barack Obama was re-elected in a knife-edge US presidential election. 

As a hard-fought campaign came down to the wire Obama was declared winner after picking up crucial swing states, ending the uncertainty that had pervaded markets for the past few days.

But in afternoon foreign exchange trade the greenback slipped against the euro and yen as dealers bet that under Obama the Federal Reserve would continue with the loose monetary policy that has seen it flood markets with billions of dollars.

The European single currency bought US$1.2860 in Tokyo, well up from US$1.2788 earlier Wednesday and US$1.2814 in New York late Tuesday. The greenback was at 80.09 yen compared with 80.34 yen in New York.

The US dollar was also broadly lower against other Asia-Pacific currencies, falling to US$1.0447 against the Australian dollar from US$1.0432 while it slipped to 1,086.15 South Korean won from 1,091.20 won.

Gold prices rose thanks to the weaker dollar, climbing to US$1,720.00 compared with $1,679.75 late Monday.

A clear victory had been the overriding hope as it will now allow the government to move on fixing the austere “fiscal cliff”, which will dominate discussions in Congress between now and Christmas.

If Congress fails to agree how to cut spending over the medium term, the current deal would force deep, immediate spending cuts that could tip the United States back into recession in a major blow for the slowing global economy.

On equity markets Sydney gained 0.71 per cent, or 31.7 points, to end at 4,516.5. Tokyo was flat, nudging up 2.26 points to 8,972.89, while Seoul closed up 0.49 per cent, or 9.38 points, at 1,937.55.

In the afternoon, Hong Kong was up 0.13 per cent and Shanghai was 0.21 per cent lower.

“Investors have been factoring in his win and adjusting their positions likewise,” said Kengo Suzuki, forex strategist at Mizuho Securities in Tokyo.

“The issue now is the uncertainty surrounding the US fiscal cliff, and how a divided Congress will deal with the issue,” he added.

SHK Financial strategist Daniel So told Dow Jones Newswires: “An Obama victory ensures the continuity of the US monetary policy, which is likely to be kept loose.”

He added that a Romney win would likely see him “launch policies to incentivise fund flow back to the US, so in terms of liquidity inflow an Obama win also favours the Asian markets”.

Wall Street ended with impressive gains ahead of the election results. The Dow rose 1.02 per cent, the S&P 500 climbed 0.79 per cent and the Nasdaq added 0.41 per cent.

However, regional traders were still concerned about Europe’s debt woes, which were stoked on Tuesday after data showed a bigger-than-expected slump in factory orders in Germany, the eurozone’s biggest economy.

Berlin said industrial orders declined 3.3 per cent in September from August after falling 0.8 per cent the previous month.

That is much steeper than expected. Analysts polled by Dow Jones had been pencilling in a fall of 0.5 per cent.

The drop was largely due to a decline in export orders, particularly from the eurozone where they plummeted 9.6 per cent.

And Greek lawmakers are due to vote later in the day on a new set of austerity measures – including tax hikes and pension cuts – that are needed to unlock the latest batch of international aid and stave off bankruptcy.

Eyes are also on the upcoming 18th congress of the Chinese Communist Party that begins on Thursday and which will see the country’s leaders for the next 10 years anointed.

Oil prices were lower. New York’s main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in December, fell 27 cents to US$88.44 a barrel in the afternoon and Brent North Sea crude for December shed 56 cents to US$110.51.

Taipei closed 0.70 per cent higher, adding 50.50 points to 7,287.18. Leading smartphone maker HTC gained 3.99 per cent to NT$208.5 while Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co was 0.66 per cent higher at NT$91.0.