Asian stocks slide as US dollar slumps on Trump talk

A man looking at an electric quotation board flashing numbers of the world's stock markets in front of a securities company in Tokyo on March 10, 2017.
A man looking at an electric quotation board flashing numbers of the world's stock markets in front of a securities company in Tokyo on March 10, 2017. PHOTO: AFP

SYDNEY (BLOOMBERG) - Shares slid across Asia on Thursday (April 13) after the US dollar slumped and Treasury bond yields dropped to the lowest level this year in reaction to President Donald Trump's comments that the greenback was getting too strong and that he won't brand China a currency manipulator.

The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index fell more than 0.4 per cent after Trump made the China comments in an interview with the Wall Street Journal on Wednesday, abandoning a core election promise that tapped into anger about trade-driven job losses.

The US dollar weakened against the Singapore dollar, trading down 0.4 per cent at S$1.3962 as of 9:30am.

Trump's remarks are seen as reducing the risk that China could dump its holding of Treasuries in retaliation for being tagged a currency manipulator. China's currency traded outside of the country gained the most since last month. Bonds also benefited from Trump's comments that he likes the Federal Reserve's low-interest-rate policy and is leaving open the possibility of renominating Chair Janet Yellen.

Global equity markets are entering a key period, with earnings season ramping up against a backdrop of mounting geopolitical tensions around Syria and North Korea as well as elections in Europe. Trump's struggle to push through his fiscal agenda and the debate over the pace of monetary policy adjustment in the world's biggest economy also cloud the picture.

In central bank action, Singapore left monetary policy unchanged and said it can maintain a neutral stance for an extended period of time to help support the economy's recovery. On Wednesday, Canada held its benchmark interest rate at 0.5 per cent while Brazil lowered its key rate by a full percentage point, the biggest cut since 2009, as inflation slowed by half in the last year.

The yen rose 0.1 per cent to 108.87 per dollar as of 9:11am in Tokyo, up 2 per cent this week to trade at the highest level since November.

The euro was little changed at US$1.0664, holding its first three-day gain since January.

The South Korean won advanced for a second day, gaining 0.5 per cent.

The Topix fell 0.9 per cent, sending it toward the lowest closing level since November. The index has the second-worst performance among developed markets this year, after Israel, with a loss of 3.5 per cent.

Singapore's Straits Times Index and Sydney's S&P/ASX 200 dropped 0.7 per cent, while New Zealand's S&P/NZX 50 index lost 0.4 per cent. Hong Kong futures were down 0.4 per cent. South Korea's Kospi rose 0.1 per cent after halting a six-day selloff on Wednesday.

Futures on the S&P 500 Index were little changed. The benchmark index closed down 0.4 per cent, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.3 per cent.

The 10-year US Treasury yield was steady after falling six basis points to 2.24 per cent on Wednesday, the lowest closing level since Nov 16.

Australian 10-year yields dropped four basis points to 2.47 per cent.

West Texas Intermediate crude fell 0.5 per cent to US$52.86 a barrel, after a government report showed stockpiles dropped from record levels while production increased.

Gold was flat at US$1,287.30 an ounce after climbing for the past four days.

Iron ore tumbled 8.5 per cent to US$68.04 per metric ton, its biggest one-day slump since March 2016.