Wall Street experienced a sharp selloff on 17 May as Trump’s drama unfolded, and saw the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) shedding 373 points in a single day, its worst day since September 2016. Nevertheless, the benchmark index recovered lost ground with six straight days of gains while market gathered its nerve. Following Federal Reserve’s latest policy meeting revealing a general agreement to shrink its balance sheet and a likely rate hike next month which is largely in line with expectation, DJIA ended the fortnight advancing 0.8 percent to close at 21,082.95. Correspondingly, S&P 500 and Nasdaq climbed 0.9 percent and 1.5 percent respectively, to finish at 2,415.07 and 6,205.26.
In the Asian markets, Japan’s exports in April rose again marking its fifth straight month of gains, and signaled a steady economic recovery. Export grew 7.5 percent in April year-on-year (y-o-y) following a 12 percent increase in March. That said, Nikkei was largely trading range-bound during the last two weeks, and ended the fortnight losing 1 percent to close at 19,686.84. Over in Hong Kong, Moody downgraded Hong Kong’s rating from Aa1 to Aa2 after it cut China’s sovereign rating on worsening financial strength. However, the impact on the Hong Kong market seems limited. Over the fortnight, Hang Seng Index jumped 1.9 percent to close at 25,639.27 while Shanghai Composite Index rose 0.9 percent to close at 3,110.06.
In the lion city, the spotlight was shone on commodity trader Noble Group after its share price tumbled by more than half following a shocking 1Q17 loss. Before the beaten stock could hardly regain its footing, news of credit rating agency S&P’s warnings of potential defaults as well as Sinochem pulling out its interest in investing in the firm broke out. This has got short sellers smelling blood. The downward spiral exacerbated, driving the price further down to a historical low of $0.305 on 24 May amid the unsympathetic heavy selling activity.
Looking at the economic data, Singapore’s 1Q17 Gross Domestic Product grew 2.7 percent y-o-y, but contracted 1.3 percent as compared to the last quarter last year. Although the Ministry of Trade and Industry kept its earlier forecast range of economic growth to be within one to three percent for 2017, it stated that this year’s growth is likely to be better than the two percent achieved last year. Meanwhile, non-oil domestic exports for 1Q17 jumped 15.2 percent y-o-y extending the 2.7 expansion in the previous quarter, underpinned by higher shipments of electronic products. Straits Times Index fell 1.1 percent to close at 3,219.42.
For the next two weeks, all eyes will be on the unemployment and jobs data to be released in the first week of June, which could potentially affect Fed’s decision to raise rate during the FOMC meeting on 13 and 14 June.