1. Asian stocks pull back on fresh doubts about Donald Trump policies

Asian stocks pull back on fresh doubts about Donald Trump policies

Both the S&P 500 and the Dow Jones Industrial Average lost more than one percent on Tuesday in frantic trading, their biggest one day slide since before Donald Trump's election victory in November.

By: | Hong Kong | Updated: March 22, 2017 11:54 AM
MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was down 0.5 percent in early trades after it hit its highest level since June 2015 in the previous session. Early Asian market openers such as Japan and Australia fell more than a percent. (Reuters)

Asian stocks fell on Wednesday as a sharp pullback in Wall Street on doubts about Donald Trump’s economic agenda prompted investors to rush to safe haven assets such as gold and government bonds. Both the S&P 500 and the Dow Jones Industrial Average lost more than one percent on Tuesday in frantic trading, their biggest one day slide since before Donald Trump’s election victory in November. MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was down 0.5 percent in early trades after it hit its highest level since June 2015 in the previous session. Early Asian market openers such as Japan and Australia fell more than a percent. “Nerves about implementation of the Trump agenda will remain the focus for markets with the Obamacare repeal vote in U.S. congress on Thursday,” ANZ strategists wrote in a daily note.

With valuations stretched — U.S. stocks are trading at the upper end of their historical valuation ranges — investors see the Trump administration’s struggles to push through the healthcare overhaul as a sign he may also face setbacks delivering promised corporate tax cuts. Expectations of those tax cuts have been a major driver behind the 10-percent surge in the S&P 500 since Trump’s election. With investor mood decidedly risk-off, the Japanese yen scored some chunky gains against the U.S. dollar, rising to a four-month high. The greenback fell below a key level of 100 against a trade-weighted basket of its peers. Bonds gained with yields on two-year U.S. debt falling to 1.27 percent in overnight trades, retreating further from a 7-1/2 year high of 1.38 percent hit last Wednesday when the U.S. Federal Reserve raised interest rates. Gold was on track to extend its overnight strong performance with the precious commodity perched comfortably at a two-week high of $1,248 per ounce. Oil prices declined as concerns about new supply overshadowed the latest talk by OPEC that it was looking to extend output cuts.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude fell 1.8 percent to its lowest level since late-November to settle at $47.34 per barrel. Contracts were yet to be traded in Asia. (Reporting by Saikat Chatterjee; Editing by Sam Holmes)), Efe news reported on Wednesday. Unicef warned of the threat to children’s lives due to the lack of safe water and of how climate change is exacerbating the problem. “Water is elemental; without it, nothing can grow. But around the world, millions of children lack access to safe water — endangering their lives, undermining their health, and jeopardising their future,” Unicef Executive Director Anthony Lake said. “This crisis will only grow unless we take collective action now,” he insisted.

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The report warns that population growth as well as increased consumption and demand are putting more and more stress on water availability, while right now such stress is already “extremely high” in 36 countries. The situation occurs when demand for water far exceeds the renewable supply available, the report said. It also highlighted various factors affecting the quality and availability of water such as warmer temperatures, rising sea levels, melting ice and increasing droughts. To date, 663 million people are lacking adequate access to water sources and more than 800 children under the age of five die every day from diarrhoea linked to contaminated water and inadequate sanitation and hygiene. According to Unicef, the lack of an adequate supply exposes children to deadly diseases forcing children in many places to spend hours every day to collect water, preventing them from going to school. The report furthermore includes recommendations for different sectors and urges governments to plan for possible changes in water availability and demand over the coming years. According to Unicef, the priority must be to safeguard access to water for the most vulnerable children.

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