Asian stocks came under pressure on Thursday as investors flooded into safe haven plays as the administration of President Donald Trump moves on fronts as diverse as Iran, global trade, immigration and the Supreme Court less than two weeks after taking office.
While markets initially responded positively to a Trump presidency in hopes of pro-growth policies like tax cuts, several of his executive orders, such as the indefinite travel ban on visitors from seven Muslim-majority countries, have raised concerns.
"The travel ban has seen uncertainty creep in around whether the new administration knows what it is doing and how isolationist Trump is prepared to the take the U.S.," said Shane Oliver, head of investment strategy and chief economist at AMP Capital, in a report.
Spot gold, usually a safe-haven play, gained 0.58 percent to $1,216.22 per ounce. Safe-haven currencies were also getting a leg up, with yen strengthening to 112.58 against the greenback, and the Kiwi rising to $0.7300, compared to levels around $0.72 seen earlier. The Australian dollar jumped 0.59 percent to trade at $0.7643 by 1:40 p.m. HK/SIN.
"These last few days have seen safe-haven buying. Investors have flipped out of equities and into currencies such as Yen and New Zealand dollar. Gold has been the obvious beneficiary as well rallying some $30 an ounce from its lows last week," said Jeffrey Halley, senior market analyst at OANDA, in a Thursday note.
Halley added that the market had turned into a "short-term headline driven beast."