Asian shares mostly fall on uncertainty over US election

TOKYO (AP) — Asian shares were mostly lower in muted trading yesterday amid widespread uncertainty over what the United States (US) Presidential election will portend for markets and economic policy.

Investors remain worried over surging cases and deaths related to COVID-19, especially in parts of the US and Europe, and the implications for trade, tourism and economic activity.

Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 inched down 0.1 per cent to 23,495.21, while South Korea’s Kospi lost 0.5 per cent to 2,348.54. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 fell nearly 0.2 per cent to 6,155.60. The Shanghai Composite index declined 1.1 per cent to 3,243.60. Markets in Hong Kong were closed for holidays.

“Asia markets remain pacing the floor awaiting the US Presidential election passage, commencing with muted moves going into the start of the week,” said Singapore IG Market Strategist Jingyi Pan.

US stock indexes closed mostly higher last week.

They bounced between small gains and losses, a familiar pattern recently as traders keep an eye on negotiations between Republican and Democratic leaders in Washington over more economic aid.

A man walks past an electronic stock board at a securities firm in Tokyo. PHOTO: AP

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on Sunday she’s not giving up on passing another coronavirus relief economic package before the November 3 election. She said she sent a list of concerns to the Trump administration on Friday and was told she would get answers soon.

At issue is a huge virus relief bill that would send another USD1,200 direct payment to most Americans, restart bonus unemployment benefits, fund additional testing and vaccines, provide aid to schools and allocate money to state and local governments, a Democratic priority.

One major concern is that if the election’s outcome is uncertain, that would further delay help for the economy as mounting numbers of coronavirus cases raise the likelihood of further disruptions for businesses.

Last Friday, the S&P 500 rose 0.3 per cent to 3,465.39, its second straight gain. The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 0.1 per cent, to 28,335.57.

The Nasdaq composite, which is heavily weighted with technology stocks, gained 0.4 per cent to 11,548.28, while the Russell 2000 index rose 0.6 per cent to 1,640.50. In energy trading, US benchmark crude lost USD0.87 to USD38.98 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

It lost USD0.79 to USD39.85 per barrel last Friday.

Brent crude, the international standard, fell USD0.89 to USD40.88 a barrel. The US dollar inched up to JPY104.88 from JPY104.71 last Friday. The euro cost USD1.1833, down from USD1.1861.