Asian stocks advance amid US debate as fed rate hike looms

Payroll gains in the US economy slowed for a third month, while August hiring was stronger than initially estimated, Labor Department data showed Friday.

By: Bloomberg | Sydney | Published:October 10, 2016 8:48 am
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump shakes hands with Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton following the second presidential debate at Washington University in St. Louis, Sunday, Oct. 9, 2016. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky) Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump shakes hands with Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton following the second presidential debate at Washington University in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Asian stocks climbed, led by materials and financial companies, as Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton sparred in the second US presidential debate.

The MSCI Asia Pacific excluding Japan Index added 0.1 percent as of 10:09 a.m. in Hong Kong. China’s stocks rose as the nation’s markets reopened after a weeklong break, while Australian shares increased. Republican Trump’s reputation took a blow after a 2005 video surfaced of him talking in vulgar and degrading terms about women. An American jobs report on Friday showed its central bank remains on course to lift interest rates in December.

“Everyone in the markets are still hoping that the Democrats get in and that’s definitely where the momentum is,” James Audiss, Sydney-based senior wealth manager at Shaw and Partners Ltd., which oversees about $7.5 billion, said by phone, watching the debate from his trading floor.

During the debate, Trump dismissed his obscene and vulgar comments in the video as nothing more than “locker-room talk” and tried to deflect from the issue by attacking Clinton over her e-mail use and past accusations of sexual misconduct by her husband, former president Bill Clinton.

The debate at Washington University comes as Americans are due to go to the polls to elect their next president on Nov. 8. The stakes couldn’t be higher for Trump or the Republican party after the release of the video, which triggered a rush of Republican officeholders to distance themselves from him or call for his exit from the race for the White House.

“This is dangerously close to the election, so it’s harder for him to recover,” Shane Oliver, Sydney-based head of investment strategy at AMP Capital Investors Ltd., which oversees about $121 billion, said by phone before the debate. “It tends to be the case that when it looks more likely that Clinton will win, markets tend to rally. Much will depend on the debate and we will be watching how Trump handles the issue in the debate and what Clinton makes of it.”

Traders signaled a slightly higher chance of the Fed raising its key interest rate by the end of this year after Friday’s jobs report. Futures indicate a 64 percent chance the central bank will tighten policy by its December meeting, with the calculation based on the assumption the effective fed funds rate will trade at the middle of the new range after the central bank’s next increase.

Payroll gains in the US economy slowed for a third month, while August hiring was stronger than initially estimated, Labor Department data showed Friday.

“The jobs numbers were good enough to keep a Fed rate hike on track for December, but not strong enough to signal a quickening in the pace of Fed hikes — it’s still going to be very gradual,” said AMP’s Oliver.

Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index rose 0.3 percent. UGL Ltd. surged 49 percent in Sydney trading after Cimic Group Ltd., the Australian construction company controlled by Germany’s Hochtief AG, offered to buy the rest of UGL in a deal valuing the engineering firm at A$524 million ($398 million). New Zealand’s NZX 50 Index lost 0.3 percent. Equity markets are closed in Japan, Taiwan and Hong Kong.

The Shanghai Composite Index gained 0.6 percent, led by energy producers, while a gauge of property developers tumbled after a number of cities imposed curbs to cool surging home prices. South Korea’s Kospi index climbed 0.1 percent, erasing earlier declines. Samsung Electronics Co. dropped 3.6 percent in Seoul. The company temporarily halted production of its Note 7 smartphones after U.S. carriers suspended sales and exchanges of the troubled device, Yonhap reported, citing an unidentified official at a supplier.