Singapore, Asian markets turn negative, peso and US dollar skid with Trump leading in US polls

The US dollar sank and stock plummeted as investors faced the possibility of a surprise win by Republican Donald Trump.
An office worker walks past a logo of the Singapore Stock Exchange outside its premises in Singapore.
An office worker walks past a logo of the Singapore Stock Exchange outside its premises in Singapore. PHOTO: REUTERS

SINGAPORE - Singapore stocks turned negative on Wednesday (Nov 9) as the US election vote count showed Republican Donald Trump leading in a tight race.

The Straits Times Index was trading down 1 per cent by 10:10am after opening up 0.5 per cent.

Investors in Asia are on tenterhooks as the US state by state election results trickle in with the US dollar and gold whipsawing. US stock index futures sank 3.3 per cent, Mexico's peso tumbled 4 per cent after US media projections that gave Republican Donald Trump a slim lead in the key battleground state of Florida.

The US dollar was down 1.5 per cent on the safe haven yen at 103.63 yen after rallying earlier.

Rallying were safe haven assets with spot gold hitting an over one month high at US$1310.16 and the yen jumping 1 per cent.

By mid morning, most other Asian markets also lost their guarded gains in nervous, choppy trade. Hong Kong opened higher but quickly headed lower, losing 1.7 per cent. China's Shanghai Composite was clinging on to 0.1 per cent gain.

Tokyo's Nikkei was trading up 0.5 per cent after going as going as high as 1.6 per cent. Sydney was down 0.6 per cent while Seoul was 0.8 per cent lower.

With voting completed in more than half of the 50 US states, the race was still too close to call in the key battleground states of Ohio, Florida, North Carolina, New Hampshire and Virginia.

With Trump having rallied from a double-digit deficit in some polls to within striking distance of Clinton, analysts drew parallels with Britain's shock EU exit vote.

"Volumes are eerily low in the local markets this morning, which means a lot of investors are still sitting on the sidelines waiting for further confirmation of the outcome of the US election," Gary Huxtable, client adviser at Atlantic Pacific Securities, was quoted by AFP as saying in a note.

Investors view Clinton as safer hand on the wheel of the world's biggest economy than the wildly unpredictable Trump.

Said Kevin Scully, executive chairman of research house NRA Capital: The market has been quite volatile for the last couple of weeks. Everyone has been aware of the uncertainty. If Trump comes in, it may be disruptive to the economy. Hillary Clinton is more predictable. If he comes in, the Fed may delay the rate hike which will provide liquidity to the market and soak up any knee-jerk reaction to the sell-off."