Asian markets mostly up as traders keep tabs on US vote

US President Donald Trump  (Evan Vucci, AP)
US President Donald Trump (Evan Vucci, AP)

Hong Kong - Asian markets mostly rose early Wednesday as investors tracked early results from the US midterm elections with Democrats looking on course to win back control of the House, which could impact Donald Trump's legislative agenda.

Equities and the dollar were fluctuating through the morning with results in many key constituencies on a knife-edge with turnout expected to be high.

But, while the vote is the first major electoral test of the Trump's presidency, analysts pointed out that the poll is unlikely to lead to a reversal of the White House's tax cuts and deregulation.

Nor will it wind in his aggressive efforts to reframe international trade, which has been a key to recent volatility in global markets.

"These midterms were never really expected to be a remarkable market event - if they go to plan that is - but a shock on either side could spring forex markets out of this November slumber," Stephen Innes, head of Asia-Pacific trading at OANDA, said.

However, the vote has the added twist of a probe looking at whether Trump's campaign colluded with Russia to win the 2016 election. If the Democrats win one house of congress, it would likely lead to extensive investigation of Trump's administration, creating new roadblocks for his agenda.

Hong Kong and Shanghai edged up 0.1% while Tokyo was 1.2% higher at the break thanks to a weaker yen.

Sydney added 0.2%, with Singapore and Seoul each 0.6% up. There were also gains in Taipei and Jakarta though Wellington and Manila dipped.

Energy firms dropped with oil prices on worries about an oversupply following a forecast-beating rise in US stockpiles, while the head of the International Energy Agency called on OPEC to boost output.

The comment from director Fatih Birol comes as Venezuela's production dries up and US sanctions on Iran kick in.

However, the commodity was already depressed by news that Washington had given waivers to eight countries allowing them to continue buying crude from Tehran, tempering most of the embargo's impact.

"At least three of the top five consumers of Iranian crude have been granted waivers. Therefore the impact is likely to be substantially muted," Sukrit Vijayakar, founder of energy consultancy Trifecta Consultants, told AFP.

"Apparently, President Trump had a more important short-term goal of bringing oil prices down so as to help the re-election of Republican congressmen."

Both main contracts are down about a fifth from their four-year highs touched at the start of last month.

On currency markets the pound continued to rise as traders grow optimistic officials are close to an agreement for a post-Brexit deal for Britain, with the question of Northern Ireland the main sticking point.

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