Forex – Yen gains in Asia as Trump conference short of policy details
The yen gained in Asia on Thursday as the first formal press conference for Donald Trump since winning the election was seen as short on economic policy details and instead turned into a freewheeling battle with the press on the Russian election hacking claims that led to a sharp sell-off in the dollar. USD/JPY traded at 114.83, down 0.48%, while AUD/USD changed hands at 0.7457, up 0.22%. GBP/USD traded at 1.2197, down 0.22%. The U.S. dollar index eased 0.17% to 101.53. In Japan, the adjusted current account came in at a surplus of ¥1.80 trillion, wider than the ¥1.48 trillion surplus seen.
Overnight, major market currencies were mixed in trading on Wednesday, over concerns of possible new international tensions under the incoming Trump administration. President-elect Trump’s nominees for Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, and Attorney General, Sen. Jeff Sessions, participated in day-long hearings on Capitol Hill, while Trump held a news conference in Manhattan at Trump Tower, where he has had his transition headquarters. Trump said that a number of nations were responsible for ongoing “hacking” attempts on U.S. government computers, but that Democrats were to blame as they had poor IT security systems. The President-elect said that during the summer, after securing his nomination from the Republican Party for President, he directed the Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Prebius to install top-flight cybersecurity, and that the RNC did this, after interviewing a number of leading computer experts.
Trump added that he was clear-eyed about possible relations going forward between the U.S. and Russia. He will attempt to foster better relations, but if Russian President Vladimir Putin does not see that as being in his interests, then relations may not improve. Trump said he was willing to accept that outcome. On the topic of Russia, Secretary of State nominee Tillerson, during his hearing, testified that “many ISIS fighters are speaking Russian,” and were likely Russian nationals, and that was an indicator of a possible conflict area between the U.S. and Russia as the defeat of ISIS is the top U.S. foreign policy goal.
Separately, U.S. President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for secretary of state Rex Tillerson told his confirmation hearing before the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee that China’s building of islands and putting military assets on those islands was “akin to Russia’s taking Crimea” from Ukraine. Asked whether he supported a more aggressive posture toward China, he said: “We’re going to have to send China a clear signal that, first, the island-building stops and, second, your access to those islands also is not going to be allowed.”