Most South-east Asian stock markets fell on Thursday, tracking weakness in global markets as concerns mounted over US President Donald Trump’s future following reports that he tried to influence a federal probe. The allegations have not only thrown doubt over the future of the pro-growth policies that Trump promised, but they have raised the possibility he could end up leaving the presidency.
“Since obstruction of justice is considered to be an impeachable offence, I think that’s what is keeping most investors worried,” said Victor Felix, an equity analyst with AB Capital Securities. “The story is still developing at the U.S. end and pretty much everyone is tracking that right now. Traders would be moving to safe-haven assets and I think we are going to continue to see selling pressure in Asian equities.”
Wall Street was sold off overnight with the S&P 500 and the Dow notching their biggest one-day fall since Sept. 9, 2016 as hopes for tax reforms and stimulus programme faded on the latest uncertainties surrounding Trump. The U.S. dollar slipped against the safe-haven yen and the Swiss franc on Wednesday, and the dollar index, which tracks the U.S. currency against six peers, gave up all of its post-Trump gains.
In Asia, MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was down 0.4 percent. In Southeast Asia, Singapore shares hit their lowest in more than two weeks and were headed for a third straight session of falls. Financial and real estate stocks led the decline, with DBS Group shedding 0.8 percent and Ascendas REIT dropping 1.2 percent. Philippine shares fell 1.4 percent at one point, hurt by slower-than-expected GDP growth in the first quarter.
Industrial stocks and financials were the biggest drag. BDO Unibank shed 1.6 percent, while Ayala Land was down 1.3 percent. Meanwhile, Malaysian shares declined as much as 0.8 percent to a near two-week low, heading for a third session of drop. Indonesia hit a one-month low before recovering to trade slightly higher, while Vietnam hovered near a one-month high.