Dhaka, Bangladesh
Asian traders cautious as Trump woes linger

Asian traders cautious as Trump woes linger

HONG KONG, May 19: Asian traders headed into the weekend on a nervous note Friday as a pick-up in US stocks and positive data were offset by worries about a crisis engulfing Donald Trump's presidency that could throw his economic agenda into doubt, reports AFP. Markets in the region were rocked Thursday by claims by recently fired FBI boss James Comey that the president pressed him to drop a probe into ex-national security advisor Michael Flynn's links to Moscow. That came a day after it was reported Trump had divulged classified information to Russia's foreign minister, fanning further allegations about his own ties to the country's leaders. The reports compounded a crisis at the White House that has led for calls for the tycoon to be impeached, fanning fears that his plans for tax cuts and ramped up infrastructure spending could be knocked off course. Trump on Thursday slapped down the accusations against him and said he was the victim of the "greatest witch hunt" in American political history. US dealers-who on Wednesday saw Wall Street suffer its heaviest losses since Trump's November election-were cheered by better-than-forecast jobs claims figures and manufacturing data, helping the three main indexes to post small gains. But Asian investors remained circumspect. Tokyo stocks ended a seesaw session in positive territory Friday but investors remain on edge over the crisis engulfing Donald Trump's presidency, while Takata surged more than 20 percent following a legal settlement linked to its deadly airbag scandal. Takata, at the centre of the industry's biggest safety recall, closed at 475 yen ($4.30) after four automakers, including Toyota and BMW, agreed Thursday to pay $553 million to settle a US lawsuit over its defective airbags. Takata's faulty safety devices have been blamed for at least 16 deaths globally and scores of injuries. Japanese stocks rallied on bargain-buying at the start, after heavy selling Thursday fuelled by worries that Trump ongoing troubles could throw his economy-boosting agenda off track. The main indexes drifted into negative territory before eking out modest gains by the close. "Dip buying for companies with good earnings picked up," Okasan Online Securities chief strategist Yoshihiro Ito said in a commentary. The benchmark Nikkei 225 index edged 0.19 percent, or 36.90 points, higher to close at 19,590.76. But it lost 1.47 percent over the week. The broader Topix index of all first-section issues tacked on 0.30 percent, or 4.72 points, to end at 1,559.73. It fell 1.33 percent from last Friday's close. Next week, Japanese releases monthly trade and inflation data, while OPEC holds a meeting in Vienna where its members and Russia are expected to extend an agreement to cut oil production. Sharp climbed 2.53 percent to 405 yen after it said it plans to put up as much as $1.0 billion in a $100 billion technology investment fund launched by telecoms giant SoftBank. SoftBank rose 0.90 percent to 8,379 yen. Staffing agency Recruit Holdings tumbled 8.00 percent to 5,750 yen on fears that Google's new US job search engine business will hurt its growth in that market. Chinese restaurant chain Totenko jumped 5.29 percent to 179 yen after Tokyo's Ueno zoo said its female giant panda shows signs of pregnancy. Totenko's main outlet is near the zoo with a rare baby panda likely to boost the number of visitors to the area. The dollar weakened to 111.23 yen from 111.51 yen in New York. The yen tends to be bought at times of market turmoil as a safe haven, but its strength is considered a negative factor for Japanese stocks as it can dent exporters' profitability. Hong Kong stocks put an end to three days of losses Friday but traders shifted cautiously on fears that the crisis enveloping Donald Trump's Presidency could throw his economy-boosting agenda off course. The Hang Seng added 0.15 percent, or 38.25 points, to 25,174.87. The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index inched up 0.49 points to 3,090.63 but the Shenzhen Composite Index, which tracks stocks on China's second exchange, lost 0.12 percent, or 2.28 points, to 1,853.71. Ric Spooner, a market strategist at CMC Markets, said: "While investors will be relieved that yesterday's selling looks unlikely to be repeated today, it's too early to assume yesterday was a one-day wonder. "Markets have clearly decided that the US political situation has the potential to knock stock valuations off their relatively high perch." The dollar also managed to claw back some losses, having tumbled to seven-month euro lows but while analysts said Trump's troubles were unlikely to throw the Federal Reserve off its course of raising interest rates next month the unit would continue to face headwinds. "The US remains completely engulfed in the Trump Comey storyline, and the (dollar) will continue to be unalluring until further clarity is forthcoming on the special investigation," Stephen Innes, senior trader at OANDA, said in a note. European stock markets opened the session cautiously higher on Friday, as prices in the United States and Asia stabilised from the heavy sell-off seen in recent days, traders said. London's benchmark FTSE 100 index added 0.3 percent to 7,459.17 points compared with the close on Thursday. In the eurozone, Frankfurt's DAX edged up 0.2 percent to 12,612.30 points and the Paris CAC 40 also rose 0.2 percent to 5,299.40. "US bourses found their 'mojo' last night, recovering some of their recent losses. Asian investors have also largely progressed overnight, but sentiment still retains a cautious bias in response to recent political turbulence," said Mike van Dulken of Accendo Markets. Global markets have been rocked this week by claims that US President Donald Trump pressed his former FBI chief James Comey to drop a probe into ex-national security advisor Michael Flynn's links to Moscow. That came a day after it was reported Trump had divulged classified information to Russia's foreign minister, fanning further allegations about his own ties to the country's leaders

Share |