Most Asian stocks are in the red zone on Wednesday (07/03) after it was reported that Gary Cohn is to resign as adviser to US President Donald Trump. Cohn, who is well-regarded in the business community and markets, opposes Trump's looming protectionist import tariffs (a 25 percent import tariff on steel and a 10 percent tariff on aluminum). Seeing Cohn lose the battle in the White House, markets have become more concerned about the possible outbreak of a global trade war.
As a result investors are seeking safe haven assets on Wednesday, hence the Japanese yen, gold and bonds are rising. Meanwhile, Indonesian stocks are among the most affected in Asia. By 14:20 pm local Jakarta time the benchmark Jakarta Composite Index was down 1.99 percent to 6,370.94 points.
The departure of Cohn, a former Goldman Sachs executive and the Head of Trump's National Economic Council, paves the way for the implementation of Trump's import tariffs as well as the full implementation of his "America First" policy. Earlier, market participants had hoped that voices around the White House, such as Cohn, could persuade Trump not to be too protectionist and hence somewhat prevent rigorous measures within the context of the America First policy. Cohn's departure, however, is a sign that Trump will not deviate from his protectionist path.
This raises chances of a global trade war. Several countries, including the European Union (EU) block, have announced they would implement retaliatory levies if Trump goes ahead with his import tariffs.
Besides the import tariff plan for steel and aluminum (which would apply for all countries), the Trump administration also seems serious about clamping down on Chinese investments in the US and imposing tariffs on a broad range of Chinese imports to punish Beijing for its alleged theft of intellectual property.
A positive element that became known overnight (but failed to push stocks into the green zone) was the news that North Korea is open to talk about giving up its nuclear weapons provided the nation's security is guaranteed. The positive impact of this news, which was received with US skepticism, was primarily felt in South Korean markets.
Meanwhile, Indonesia's rupiah had appreciated 0.07 percent to IDR 13,766 per US dollar by 14:00 pm local Jakarta time (Bloomberg Dollar Index) amid broad US dollar weakness due to Cohn's departure.
Bank Indonesia's benchmark rupiah rate (Jakarta Interbank Spot Dollar Rate, abbreviated JISDOR) depreciated 0.09 percent to IDR 13,763 per US dollar on Wednesday (07/03).
Indonesian Rupiah versus US Dollar (JISDOR):| Source: Bank Indonesia