'Looking for more details': Investors react, barely, to Trump-Kim deal

Markets across Asia barely reacted after US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un signed an agreement on June 12, 2018.
Markets across Asia barely reacted after US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un signed an agreement on June 12, 2018.ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

TOKYO/SINGAPORE (BLOOMBERG) - Investors have had the chance to review the details of US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's agreement to work towards the complete denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula - and the verdict is in.

"There aren't any details," said Kiyoshi Ishigane, chief strategist at Mitsubishi UFJ Kokusai Asset Management Co in Tokyo. "They're saying they'll try. But we don't know if this will actually materialise."

 

Markets across Asia barely reacted after Mr Trump and Mr Kim signed an agreement on Tuesday (June 12) that said that Trump would provide unspecific security guarantees to Kim in exchange for the North Korean leader's pledge to work toward easing tensions between the two countries.

Japan's Topix index closed 0.3 per cent higher, while South Korea's Kospi index was little changed. The South Korean won rose 0.2 per cent and the greenback also gained slightly. US stock-index futures fluctuated, swinging between gains and losses as European trading started Tuesday.

Here's what other strategists, money managers and traders said:

Framed Like a Win

"Markets are slightly disappointed that there were not many specific details to latch on to,"' said Damien Loh, chief investment officer of Singapore-based currency artificial intelligence fund Ensemble Capital.

 
 
 
 

"It was framed to look like a 'win' for both sides, so this means we will have to continue to see how negotiations continue as both sides come closer to a mutually acceptable definition of the thorny term 'denuclearisation'."

'Vague Pledges'

"The fact that the Kim-Trump meeting even carried on as long as it did, with both leaders engaging each other in conciliatory tones, was a positive outcome," said Eli Lee, head of investment strategy at Bank of Singapore.

"In terms of long-term impact, vague pledges of complete denuclearisation that will occur very quickly is unlikely to be very convincing for markets. More details will need to emerge."

First Step

The conclusion of the meeting between the leaders of the US and North Korea hasn't elicited any reaction from the dollar or the yen as markets realise this is only the first step in a long process toward achieving peace, says Stephen Innes, head of trading for Asia-Pacific at Oanda Corp in Singapore.

Jefferies Downgrade

Jefferies chief global equity strategist Sean Darby downgraded South Korea to "modestly bullish" from "bullish" after today's summit citing slowing economy, narrowing profits and the tightening of monetary policy.

"South Korean President Moon will need to turn his attention to the domestic economy where the disinflation boom is evaporating fast," he added.

Priced In

Markets are struggling to find a reason to sustainably price in more risk-on as they want to see tangible outcomes, according to Vishnu Varathan, head of economics and macro strategy at Mizuho Bank in Singapore.

Past 'Fluff'

"You've got to look past the fluff," said Nick Twidale, chief operating officer of Rakuten Securities' Australian unit.

"The markets are going to get straight back into almost the real game, which is fundamental data. Possibly two or three hours into the London session we may have forgotten about it."

While "the path to prosperity by trading nuke ambitions to curb sanctions is too big for North Korea to ignore", Oanda Corp's Innes is standing pat. "I am still not adding regional risk until the Fed and ECB clears," he said.

It looks like many others in the markets took the same view.

"It's a wonderful agreement to land on the first shot. But the market isn't reacting very much. It seems like people are, again, sceptical," said Soichiro Tsutsumi, a trader with eWarrant Japan Securities K.K. in Tokyo.