Overseas stocks tumbled Wednesday as Donald Trump emerged as the shock victor in the U.S. presidential election.
Earlier, investors had appeared persuaded that Hillary Clinton, seen as a more stable choice, would prevail.
At one point, Dow futures plunged more than 4 percent and Japan’s major index nosedived more than 6.1 percent, its largest drop in years. The Mexican peso likewise tumbled and investors looking for safe assets bid up the price of gold. Futures tied to the broader S&P 500 and Nasdaq 100 fell more than 5 percent around midnight.
Trading in S&P and Nasdaq futures was briefly paused early Wednesday, CNBC reported. That’s seen as a sign that the New York Stock Exchange could activate its circuit breakers sometime after U.S. markets open Wednesday. The circuit breakers – mandatory “time outs” for Wall Street traders – kick in when the S&P500 plunges 7 percent from the previous day’s close, with additional breaks for 13 percent and 20 percent drops.
“Right now, the markets are heading for the hills, but we’ll see,” Robert Tipp, chief investments strategist for global bonds and foreign exchange at Prudential Fixed Income told CNBC. “That’s a function of fear as much as fact.”
During the campaign, Trump threatened to rip up trade deals like the North American Free Trade Agreement. He pledged to greatly restrict immigration to the U.S and to build a wall along the United States’ southern border and force Mexico to pay for it.
On news of his victory the Mexican peso’s value tumbled 13 percent, leaving the currency above the 20 peso per dollar mark for the first time since 1994.
But the lack of clear policy details has left many worldwide uneasy over the future direction of the U.S. economy. Share prices began tumbling as soon as Trump first gained the lead in the electoral vote count.
By the time Hillary Clinton called Trump to concede, financial markets appeared to have steadied somewhat, but analysts predicted days of turmoil.
“This is very much a step into the unknown because we simply can’t know what type of President Trump will be,” said Paul Ashworth, chief U.S. economist with Capital Economics, in a note. “Will he be the demagogue from the campaign trail who threatened to lock up his political opponents, punish the media, build border walls and start a global trade war? Or is he capable of becoming a statesmanlike figure who leads in a more measured manner?”
Japan’s Nikkei 225 index dropped 4.4 percent to 16,410.55 and the S&P ASX/200 in Australia slipped 0.2 percent to 5,249.40. South Korea’s Kospi skidded 0.6 percent to 1,991.11 and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng tumbled 1.4 percent to 22,582.11. The Shanghai Composite index fell 0.2 percent to 3,142.94. Benchmarks were higher in Malaysia and Indonesia but fell in Taiwan and Singapore.
“Rightly or wrongly, markets are going to be concerned about a Trump victory, particularly given the potential consequences for world trade and its impact on many large companies in the U.S. stock market,” said Ric Spooner, chief analyst at CMC Markets in Sydney, before the results were clear.
“Like Brexit, the rally over the last two days increases the downside potential if Donald Trump does win the election,” Spooner added, referring to Britain’s unexpected vote to leave the European Union that shook world markets.
Trump is “performing much better than the market anticipated,” TD Securities analysts said in a note.
In the weeks leading up to the election, market analysts had widely predicted a Clinton win. Economic forecasters also said a shock win by Trump would trigger a sell-off in equities, rise in bond yields and other moves by investors aimed at reducing their exposure to market risks.
“Global markets are being shaken up. You can hear early alarm bells ringing,” said Nigel Green, CEO of investment advisory firm deVere Group.
Trump’s strong performance at the polls also has financial markets reassessing the likelihood of the Federal Reserve raising interest rates in December, as most investors have expected.