Rethink on Trump hits dollar
31 Jan 2017 - 22:26
London: The US dollar headed for its worst start to a year in over a decade yesterday, while world stocks cemented their biggest losses in six weeks after widespread protests against President Donald Trump's stringent curbs on travel to the United States.
Investors' hopes for a fiscal boost to the world's largest economy under Trump have been tempered by controversial and protectionist policies that have seen him suspend travel to the United States from seven Muslim-majority countries.
Thousands took to the streets of major US cities to oppose the travel ban, which also halts refugee arrivals, while marches in Britain added to pressure on Prime Minister Theresa May to cancel a planned state visit by Trump.
A stream of US policy makers and business executives have also slammed Trump's stance.
The dollar lost more ground against a basket of six major currencies yesterday, on track for a slump of over 2 percent this month - its worst start to the year since 2006. Against the safe haven yen, the dollar slipped to 113.28 yen , set for a fall of over 3 percent this month.
MSCI's gauge of the world's top 46 stock markets failed to recover any ground yesterday, after a 0.6 percent slide on Monday which was its largest loss in a month and a half.
Futures showed Wall Street opening around 0.2 percent lower , with the S&P 500 index set to add to its biggest daily fall in a month, seen on Monday.
Benchmark German government bond yields edged higher as the euro zone posted better-than-expected inflation and growth data, a trend that plays into the hands of a minority of policy makers calling for an end to the European Central Bank's ultra-easy stance. European bourses clawed back some ground after big losses on Monday, buoyed by strong results from the likes of British online supermarket Ocado.
MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan fell 0.6 percent while Japan's Nikkei dropped 1.7 percent, its biggest fall in almost three months. Supported by signs of accelerating momentum in the global economy, most stock markets remained up on the month as a whole. MSCI's ex-Japan Asian shares index was up 5.8 percent this month while its index of world markets was up 2.7 percent.
In other currencies, the euro edged up to $1.0756 against the US dollar after Trump's trade adviser told the Financial Times that Germany was benefiting from a "grossly undervalued" exchange rate. It has bounced back from a 14-year low of $1.0340 set on January 3.
The British pound fell by almost a full cent after weaker than expected data on consumer credit added to a handful of tentative signs that the UK economy may finally be slowing on the back of last year's Brexit vote.
Elevated uncertainty about Trump's policies, including a lack of detail so far on his plans for tax cuts and fiscal spending, is tempering optimism on the US economy. Over half of the global investors polled by Reuters this month said they thought Trump's stimulus plans would fail to meet existing market expectations.