Markets mostly up as focus turns to US debt talks

AFP , Monday 15 May 2023

Asian and European markets mostly rose Monday as investors kept an eye on the talks to raise the US debt limit to avert a "catastrophic" default.

Japan s Nikkei 225 and New York Dow indexes
A person walks in front of an electronic stock board showing Japan s Nikkei 225 and New York Dow indexes at a securities firm Monday, May 15, 2023, in Tokyo. AP


There has been some progress on reaching a deal but Democrats and Republicans remain at loggerheads, though President Joe Biden said he was confident the debt ceiling will be raised.

Republicans are demanding budget cuts in exchange for lifting the limit, while the White House has insisted for months that the nation's credit should not be up for negotiation.

There is a general view among traders that the two sides will hammer out a deal, though some observers warn that the mere threat of a default was weighing on market sentiment.

Meanwhile, the Congressional Budget Office said there was a "significant risk" that the United States could default by June 15 if there is no deal.

Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo told CNN on Sunday: "If Congress failed to raise the debt limit by the time of default, we would go into a recession and it'd be catastrophic.

"The United States of America has never defaulted on its debt -- and we can't."

The uncertainty weighed on Wall Street, with all three main indexes ending in the red on Friday, but Asia enjoyed a broadly healthy start to the week, bouncing back from morning losses.

Tokyo, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Sydney, Seoul, Singapore and Mumbai rose though there were losses in Taipei, Manila and Jakarta.

London, Paris and Frankfurt all opened on a high.

Thai baht boosted

"While some investors remain complacent about this risk, others had noted parallels between the current divided political environment... and the situation in 2011, when a political standoff over the debt ceiling caused the S&P 500 index to fall 17 percent in July, early August," said SPI Asset Management's Stephen Innes.

And Audrey Goh at Standard Chartered Wealth Management Group added that the outlook for equities was gloomy.

"There's quite a fair bit of ongoing risk in the market," she told Bloomberg Television.

"The debt ceiling talks are still in the making, at the same time we've also got inflation still quite elevated. There could be further downside from here where equity markets are concerned."

On currency markets, the Thai baht rose to a five-week high as pro-democracy parties looked set to win weekend general elections, with voters delivering a clear rejection of nearly a decade of military-backed government.

The progressive Move Forward Party claimed victory Monday, while the Pheu Thai party agreed to join a coalition government.

However, stocks in Bangkok fell.

The Turkish lira edged down, reversing earlier gains, as the country looked set for a presidential election runoff.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will face opposition candidate Kemal Kilicdaroglu again in a second round on May 28 if neither candidate achieves the 50 percent needed to win.

"If these results hold, it would be one of the worst outcomes for the markets," said Ogeday Topcular, a money manager at RAM Capital SA. "There will be (no clarity) for the next two weeks."

Key figures around 0715 GMT

Tokyo - Nikkei 225: UP 0.8 percent at 29,626.34 (close)

Hong Kong - Hang Seng Index: UP 1.8 percent at 19,970.94

Shanghai - Composite: UP 1.2 percent at 3,310.74 (close)

London - FTSE 100: UP 0.4 percent at 7,784.58

Euro/dollar: UP at $1.0868 from $1.0853 on Friday

Pound/dollar: UP at $1.2469 from $1.2451

Dollar/yen: UP at 136.09 yen from 135.69 yen

Euro/pound: UP at 87.16 pence from 87.14 pence

West Texas Intermediate: DOWN 0.3 percent at $69.85 per barrel

Brent North Sea crude: DOWN 0.4 percent at $73.91 per barrel

New York - Dow: FLAT at 33,300.62 (close)

Search Keywords:
Short link: