US dollar slips in Asia after Trump fails to talk stimulus

The US dollar has nursed widespread losses after President-elect Donald Trump's long-awaited news briefing provided little clarity on future fiscal policies, disappointing bulls who had bet on major stimulus.
A currency board shows the US dollar exchange rate at a bureau de change in Mexico City on Jan 11, 2017.
A currency board shows the US dollar exchange rate at a bureau de change in Mexico City on Jan 11, 2017.PHOTO: AFP

SYDNEY (REUTERS) - The US dollar nursed widespread losses on Thursday (Jan 12) after President-elect Donald Trump's widely-awaited news briefing provided little clarity on future fiscal policies, disappointing bulls wagering on major stimulus.

Yet neither did Trump mention possible tariffs against Chinese exports, a relief for Asian share markets that have feared the outbreak of a global trade war.

It was enough to help MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan edge up 0.5 per cent to its highest since early November.

Australia's main index also added 0.3 per cent aided by strength in bulk commodity prices.

Going the other way, Japan's Nikkei slipped 0.7 per cent as the yen climbed on a retreating dollar.

Wall Street had overcome its brief wobble to end Wednesday firmer. The Dow added 0.5 per cent, while the S&P 500 gained 0.28 per cent and the Nasdaq 0.21 per cent.

Health stocks were not so lucky after Trump said pharmaceutical companies were "getting away with murder" by charging high prices.

The S&P 500 healthcare index lost 1 per cent, while the Nasdaq biotechnology index sank 2.96 per cent.

Trump's first news conference since the Nov 8 election contained no details on tax cuts and infrastructure spending, two factors that had fuelled the five-week rally in stocks and a selloff in global bond markets.

"President elect Trump's first news conference since late July has left a veritable laundry list of questions unanswered for markets," wrote analysts at Westpac.

"The news conference was a far cry from the market friendly, pro-growth "presidential" comments that Trump delivered at his acceptance speech on 9 Nov," they added. "The issue is that markets arguably priced in too much reflation without any solid policy detail."

The uncertainty about what policies will actually be pursued has seen yields on 10-year Treasury notes back off a 2.64 per cent peak over the last month to steady at 2.363 per cent on Thursday.

The US dollar, likewise, has had to surrender some of its gains in the last week or so. Wednesday's session was especially volatile with the dollar rallying hard into the Trump event, only to recoil at his vagueness on policy.

The dollar index was nursing a grudge at 101.570 on Thursday, having been as high as 102.950 at one stage overnight.

The euro had rallied to US$1.0594 from a trough of US$1.0454, while the dollar eased to 114.91 yen from a top of 116.87. Sterling also bounced from a 10-week low of US$1.2048 to stand at US$1.2205.

The wild action muddied the technical outlook for the near term.

In commodity markets, oil was lifted by the drop in the dollar and reports of Saudi supply cuts to Asia.

US crude was trading 3 cents firmer at US$52.28, having climbed nearly 3 per cent overnight. Brent crude had ended US$1.46 higher at US$55.10 a barrel.