Asia shares sink as Trump takes lead in U.S. election

(AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi)
(AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi)

HONG KONG (AP) — Asian shares have shed early gains, tumbling Wednesday as Donald Trump gained the lead in the electoral vote count in the presidential election. Earlier, investors had appeared persuaded that Hillary Clinton, seen as a more stable choice, would prevail.

KEEPING SCORE: Japan’s Nikkei 225 index dropped 2.5 percent to 16,741.84 and the S&P ASX/200 in Australia slipped 0.2 percent to 5,249.40. South Korea’s Kospi skidded 0.6 percent to 1,991.11 and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng tumbled 1.4 percent to 22,582.11. The Shanghai Composite index fell 0.2 percent to 3,142.94. Benchmarks were higher in Malaysia and Indonesia but fell in Taiwan and Singapore.

WALL STREET: Safe-play stocks such as utilities and phone companies were among the biggest gainers Tuesday as investors focused on the U.S. presidential election. Wall Street has largely seen Hillary Clinton as more likely to maintain the status quo, while viewing Trump’s polices as less clear. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 0.4 percent to close at 18,332.74, the Standard & Poor’s 500 index also gained 0.4 percent, to 2,139.56. The Nasdaq composite index added 0.5 percent to 5,193.49.

ANALYST VIEWPOINT: “Rightly or wrongly, markets are going to be concerned about a Trump victory, particularly given the potential consequences for world trade and its impact on many large companies in the U.S. stock market,” said Ric Spooner, chief analyst at CMC Markets in Sydney. “Like Brexit, the rally over the last two days increases the downside potential if Donald Trump does win the election,” he added, referring to Britain’s unexpected vote to leave the European Union that shook world markets.

ELECTION PROSPECTS: Trump was locked in tight races across a handful of key battleground states with polls beginning to close across the nation. In early results, Trump the Republican and Clinton the Democrat scored in their expected strongholds. At 9 p.m. Eastern Standard Time (0200 GMT) the count showed Donald Trump with 123 electoral votes to Clinton’s 97.

CURRENCIES: The dollar plunged to 103.16 yen from 104.96 in the previous day’s trading. The euro edged up to $1.1022 from $1.1020.

ENERGY: Oil prices slipped. Benchmark U.S. crude futures lost 59 cents to $44.39 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose 9 cents to close at $44.98 a barrel on Thursday. Brent crude, used to price international oils, slid 72 cents to $45.72 a barrel in London.