Asian stocks are under heavy pressure on Wednesday (02/11) as the latest polls in the USA are suggesting that the US presidential race between market favorite Hillary Clinton and controversial candidate Donald Trump is closer than initially expected. Narrowing polls cause concern about future US economic policy after the election on 8 November 2016. Earlier, Trump expressed criticism on the Federal Reserve, claiming that the US central bank is engaged in politics by maintaining the loose monetary policy.
Generally, analysts and the people consider Clinton winner of the three debates that were held over the past couple of weeks. However, after news surfaced that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is again investigating Clinton's deleted private emails, polls show that prospects of Trump becoming the next US president have increased and are now causing a high degree of uncertainty on global markets, hence resulting in the global selloff (although several analysts claim that the selloff would have occurred anyway ahead of the election as a large group of investors become cautious).
Earlier, Clinton had a five percent lead in many polls. However, her lead narrowed to the range of 1 - 2 percent, while other polls show that Trump has actually taken the lead now. Overnight it led to declining stocks on Wall Street. The Dow Jones industrial average fell 0.6 percent, the Standard & Poor's 500 index lost 0.7 percent, while the Nasdaq composite declined 0.7 percent. These negative sentiments have also spread to Europe and Asia.
Today, the Federal Reserve (Fed) will announce conclusions of its November policy meeting. It is widely assumed that the US central bank will leave its monetary policy unchanged this month. Earlier, markets were expecting to see a US interest rate hike in December. However, a Trump victory in the election next week could cause such a degree of financial market volatility (due to concerns about its impact on the economy) that the Fed could decide to leave its interest rate regime unchanged well into 2017.
Asian stocks fell to seven-week lows on Wednesday (02/11). Japan's Nikkei 225 index is among today's biggest victims tumbling almost 2 percent. This decline is caused by the strengthening yen (a key safe haven asset) that is weakening the outlook for export-oriented Japanese stocks. Indonesia's benchmark Jakarta Composite Index is the least-affected national benchmark index in Asia so far today. It was only down 0.04 percent to 5,413.78 points by 12:00 noon local Jakarta time, while the Indonesian rupiah had depreciated 0.10 percent to IDR 13,060 per US dollar (Bloomberg Dollar Index).
Meanwhile, it is reported that the US dollar is weakening in the currency market because traders decided to sell the currency as they suspect Trump would prefer a weaker US dollar (considering his protectionist stance on international trade).
Besides Japan's yen, gold is also a key safe-haven asset that is strengthening today. HSBC stated that it is bullish on gold in the foreseeable future, no matter who wins the US presidential election. A Trump win, however, would boost the gold price the most, perhaps up to USD $1,500 an oz.
Lastly, oil prices are down as persistent skepticism that the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) will remain faithful to their production-cutting agreement.