Stock Market & Currency Update: Asian Markets Relieved on Friday
Markets in Asia seem relieved one day after "Super Thursday" as there were no major upsets that rocked stock and currency markets (with the exception of the British pound that depreciated significantly after exit polls suggest the United Kingdom is heading for a hung parliament with May's Conservatives losing the clear majority). Meanwhile, the Comey testimony and ECB policy meeting had no destabilizing impact on Wall Street. Hence, US stocks gave big support to Asian markets on Friday (09/06).
US stocks were particularly supported by rising bank shares amid speculation that the US Federal Reserve is set to raise interest rates at next week's policy meeting. Shares in the US banking sector were also supported by lawmakers' plans to undo the stricter regulations that were placed on banks following the 2008 financial crisis.
On Thursday (08/06), the Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 0.03 percent, the Dow Jones industrial average added 0.04 percent, while the Nasdaq composite gained 0.4 percent (a new record high). The performance of US stocks suggest markets do not believe the testimony of former FBI director James Comey will have a big impact on the Donald Trump administration (especially not on the short-term) and therefore does not jeopardize Trump's economic agenda (a bigger concern is how Trump will get his plans through the Senate).
Some interesting information in Comey's testimony before Senate (in an open hearing, hence sensitive information is not given) on Thursday (08/06):
• No doubt Russia is behind the cyber-hacks
• Trump did not ask Comey to stop the FBI's Russia probe
• Trump did not direct Comey to stop the Flynn probe
• Trump has lied to defend his decision to fire Comey
• Comey documented all communication with Trump in great detail as he was afraid Trump would later lie about it
The biggest shock of Super Thursday is the (preliminary) UK exit poll result, showing Prime Minister Theresa May's Conservative Party failed to obtain a parliamentary majority. In fact, there seems no clear winner. Ahead of the election it was already concluded that the worst possible result would be to have no clear winner because this would not only put severe pressure on the pound sterling but would also plunge domestic politics into turmoil and could delay Brexit talks.
Lastly, the European Central Bank (ECB) cut its forecasts for inflation and said it is not thinking about scaling back its massive bond-buying campaign yet, sending bond yields to multi-month lows, while the euro depreciated against the US dollar. However, the ECB did signal it closed the door on more interest rate cuts as, overall, conditions in the Eurozone economy are improving.
We see some limited room for Indonesian stocks to rise on Friday (09/06) in line with the general trend in Asia today. However, trading volume should be thin as investors remain cautious, while the Ramadan period (the holy fasting month that is currently underway) is always a period with reduced trading activity. The rupiah should get support from the news that Indonesia's foreign exchange reserves are now on a record high of USD $124.95 billion.
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