SAR still has other immediate worries on top of Trump shock

Updated: 2016-11-11 07:06

(HK Edition)

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The initial shock of Donald Trump's upset win in the US presidential election has given way to market euphoria, as investors and analysts come around to the view that he'll pursue a business-friendly economic policy and raise expenditure on infrastructure to boost growth.

Following a strong rebound on Wall Street, Asian stock markets followed suit on Thursday, with the benchmark Hang Seng Index soaring more than 400 points at the close of trading, recouping nearly all of the previous day's losses.

Bank stocks led the charge in the latest market rally as investors believed that a widely expected interest-rate hike in the US would help widen banks' profit margins that are needed to rebuild their balance sheets. Surprisingly, stocks of major Hong Kong property firms that are normally sensitive to rising money costs also advanced.

But, before taking the plunge with your hard-earned cash, it's necessary to keep in mind that the stock market remains fraught with uncertainties. The millions of supporters who sent Trump to the White House, obviously, want changes. And, Republican politicians would understand all too well that more fidgeting won't do if they want to keep their seats in the US Congress in the next election.

Changes bring uncertainties. Environmental protection and other initiatives that are seen, rightly or wrongly, to have inhibited business development can be expected to take a back seat, if at all, in the Trump administration. But, it's not clear how his get-tough trade policy that could invite retaliation from various trading partners would hit US corporate earnings.

There are more immediate things for Hong Kong investors to worry about. For now, the property market appears to have largely shrugged off the latest government effort to blunt the surge in homes prices. But, property experts have said they expect the increased cost of transactions to send average prices of smaller homes down by as much as 10 percent in coming months.

The magnitude of such a price adjustment could seriously dent the profits of some major developers which are banking on brisk sales and rising prices to unload their huge inventories of small- to medium-sized apartments under development.

Some property agents have already reported a decline in apartment sales. This could lead to a decrease in demand for mortgage financing that banks count on to boost earnings as loan demand by businesses shrinks.

(HK Edition 11/11/2016 page8)