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Tokyo stocks, dollar hit as Asia stumbles on Trump woe

Tokyo tumbled more than 1 per cent Thursday (Jan 12), while the dollar sank as investors were left deflated by a lack of economic detail from Donald Trump at his first post-election press conference.

HONG KONG: Tokyo tumbled more than 1 per cent Thursday (Jan 12), while the dollar sank as investors were left deflated by a lack of economic detail from Donald Trump at his first post-election press conference.

Traders had hoped the real estate tycoon would flesh out some of his campaign promises such as tax cuts and infrastructure spending, but he gave very little away, fuelling uncertainty about his aspiration to boost the US economy.

However, he did lash out at drugs companies for "getting away with murder" in offshoring production and overcharging, which in turn hammered the pharma sector across markets.

Trump also announced a plan to hand control of his business to his adult sons in a bid to avoid conflicts of interest, and angrily dismissed questions about his relationship with Russia and unsubstantiated claims Moscow has compromising information on him.

"Dealers were extremely discouraged by the lack of detail regarding the new administration's economic plan, as the presser was more about extinguishing smouldering hot spots regarding conflict of interest and the Trump organisation's associations with Russia," Stephen Innes, senior trader at OANDA, said in a note.

The disappointment saw traders shift out of the dollar towards the yen, which in turn dragged on Tokyo's Nikkei. By the end of the day the index was down 1.2 per cent. The dollar bought 114.40 yen.

The greenback has tumbled from highs around 118.60 yen touched in the wake of Trump's election win, which had fuelled hopes of a big-spending, tax-cutting programme to boost the economy and in turn fan inflation that would lead to interest rate hikes.

The dollar also retreated against the euro and pound as well as emerging market currencies with the Australian dollar up 1.3 per cent and South Korean won 1 per cent higher.

"BOMBAST"

"The market did have some hopes that Trump will give more details on his policies. The yen's moves do reflect that disappointment," Masakuni Fujiwara, chief executive officer at VistaMax Fund Advisors in Tokyo, told Bloomberg News.

And Michael McCarthy, Sydney-based chief market strategist at CMC Markets, added: "There is a growing fear that recent positive moves are based on bombast, and could unravel very quickly."

While US markets ended on a high, most of their major Asian counterparts failed to follow suit, despite a positive start.

Hong Kong fell 0.5 per cent following a five-day rally, while Shanghai closed 0.6 per cent lower. Sydney slipped 0.1 per cent. However, Seoul added 0.6 per cent.

In early European trade London fell 0.2 per cent, Paris shed 0.3 per cent and Frankfurt retreated 0.4 per cent.

Pharmaceutical firms took a battering after Trump's comments, in which he also said he would push to change the bidding procedures for drugs.

In Tokyo, Takeda dropped 2.61 per cent and rival Astellas tumbled 4.19 per cent, while Daiichi Sankyo eased 1.2 per cent. In Sydney, Mayne shed more than 4 per cent and CSL lost 2.8 per cent, while ScinoPharm was off almost 1 per cent in Taipei.

The losses mirrored a sell-off in big-name firms in the US including Bristol-Myers Squibb and Pfizer.

KEY FIGURES AROUND 0800 GMT

Tokyo - Nikkei 225: DOWN 1.2 per cent at 19,134.70 (close)

Shanghai - Composite: DOWN 0.6 per cent at 3,119.29 (close)

Hong Kong - Hang Seng: DOWN 0.5 per cent at 22,829.02 (close)

London - FTSE 100: DOWN 0.2 per cent at 7,273.56

Euro/dollar: UP at US$1.0638 from US$1.0585

Pound/dollar: UP at US$1.2246 from US$1.2214

Dollar/yen: DOWN at 114.40 yen from 115.40 yen

Oil - West Texas Intermediate: UP 6 cents at US$52.31 per barrel

Oil - Brent North Sea: UP 17 cents at US35.27

New York - Dow: UP 0.5 per cent at 19,954.28 (close)