US Election: Singapore traders in shock and disbelief

US President-elect Donald Trump is seen speaking on a television on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York on Nov 9, 2016.
US President-elect Donald Trump is seen speaking on a television on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York on Nov 9, 2016. PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

Shock, disbelief and panic gripped the local trading floor early yesterday as Mr Donald Trump built his lead over Mrs Hillary Clinton in the United States presidential election.

By the time President-elect Trump gave a victory speech about 4pm Singapore time, a certain acceptance had set in, but many remained deeply troubled by the uncertainty that a Trump presidency brings.

At CMC Markets, a heavy mood hung over the team of about 30 traders who, like almost every pundit, had not expected Mr Trump to take the Oval Office, sales trader Alex Furber said.

"So when more and more voting results rolled in, everyone looked at each other in shock and disbelief," he told The Straits Times.

"Everywhere I looked, people kept one eye on the Bloomberg terminal, one eye on the television while chatting away on their phones - basically doing as much as possible to make sense of things and get ahead of the market."

 

A remisier who asked to be anonymous described a similar scene in his office, especially after 10am, as Mr Trump started to clinch one battleground state after another.

"At least half the office had bet on the wrong side... and there were many glum faces around. The thing that bothered us was we simply don't know what is going to happen, what kind of president Trump is going to be. What we know about Trump we learnt mostly from reality TV show."

Markets had been banking on a Clinton victory to provide stability and continuity, whereas a Trump win was seen as unpredictable with big questions over free trade.

The market panic subsided somewhat by the time the result was clear. The Straits Times Index, which had slumped almost 3 per cent earlier in the day, trimmed its losses to 1.08 per cent.

"Things really weren't as dramatic as people expected. Many investors remembered the Brexit shock and had put in stop-loss order," KGI Securities (Singapore) trading strategist Nicholas Teo said.

Opinion polls had shown that Britain would vote to stay in the European Union in June.

 

There were also fears that further losses on Wall Street could spell more red ink for Asian bourses today. Mr Teo said some staffers were pulling a late-night shift to keep an eye on the US markets and the greenback.

For CMC's Mr Furber, it was an emotionally draining day. "Disappointment and a sense of deflation - that's how I would describe my feelings. After I knock off, I'll head straight to a bar. I think I need a beer."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 10, 2016, with the headline 'Singapore traders in shock and disbelief'. Print Edition | Subscribe