Markets' verdict: Clinton 1 Trump 0

Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton reacts after the first presidential debate.
Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton reacts after the first presidential debate.PHOTO: AFP

SYDNEY (REUTERS) - Asian shares recovered from an early bout of nerves while the Mexican peso surged on Tuesday (Sept 27) as investors awarded the first US presidential debate to Democrat Hillary Clinton over Republican Donald Trump.

Markets have tended to see Mrs Clinton as the candidate of the status quo, while few are sure what a Trump presidency might mean for US foreign policy, international trade deals or the domestic economy.

Opinion polls have shown the two candidates in a very tight race, with the latest Reuters/Ipsos polling showing Mrs Clinton ahead by 4 percentage points, with 41 per cent of likely voters.

As early risk aversion faded, MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan recouped early losses to rise 0.5 per cent.

Japan's Nikkei swung 0.3 per cent higher, having been down 1.5 per cent at one stage, while the US dollar rebounded to 100.83 yen from a one-month low around 100.08.

Singapore's Straits Times Index regained lost ground and was trading up 8.5 points, or 0.3 per cent, at 12:20 pm after being down 15 points just after the debate began at 9am Singapore time on Tuesday.

EMini futures for the S&P 500 recovered to gain 0.6 per cent, an unusually large move for Asian hours.

"Markets started to call the debate for Hillary within the first 15 minutes or so, with the Mexican peso surging in what is probably its busiest Asian session in years," said Mr Sean Callow, a senior currency analyst at Westpac in Sydney.

"The bounce in S&P futures, AUD and USD/JPY all show that investors were watching closely and didn't hesitate to declare Trump the loser."

The US dollar sank 1.9 per cent on the peso, lifting the peso from an all-time trough hit in recent days on concerns that a Trump presidency would threaten Mexico's exports to the United States, its single biggest market.

"There's a thing called 'Trump thermometer'," said Mr David Bloom, London-based global head of forex strategy at HSBC. "If you want to know who won the presidential debate, don't go to Twitter or Facebook. Just look at the dollar/Mexico peso."

Much the same goes for the Canadian dollar, which touched its lowest since March in early trade before rallying to US$1.3171 on its US counterpart.

Against a basket of currencies, the dollar was a fraction firmer at 96.360 and the euro was steady at $1.1242 .

Other safe-havens ebbed, with yields on US 10-year Treasuries rising a basis point to 1.60 per cent.

Online betting companies in Australia shortened the odds on a Clinton win in the wake of the debate, leaving her as the clear favourite among punters.

A CNN poll of viewers, which the broadcaster noted was likely skewed somewhat to Democrats, showed 62 per cent thought Mrs Clinton won the debate with 27 per cent for Mr Trump.

In commodity markets, oil consolidated its gains having bounced 3 per cent on Monday as the world's largest producers gathered in Algeria to discuss ways to tackle a crude glut that has battered prices for two years now.

Brent crude was off a slight 12 cents at US$47.23 a barrel, while US crude dipped 5 cents to US$45.88.