Safe-haven currencies surged on Wednesday as investors remained on the edge while waiting for U.S. polling results.
The yen climbed from an earlier session low of 105.46 to as high as 101.15 versus the dollar. As of 1:27 p.m. HK/SIN, the dollar/yen traded at 101.61.
Yen crosses also fell, with the euro/yen pair at 114.43, down from an earlier high of 116.02, while pound/yen traded at 127.19, down from levels near 130. The Japanese currency also strengthened against the Australian dollar, climbing from levels near 82.00 to as high as 76.79.
The Swiss franc climbed to a session high of 0.9542 against the dollar from an earlier low of 0.9835. As of 1:29 p.m. HK/SIN, the currency traded at 0.9583 versus the greenback.
Societe Generale’s global fixed income strategist, Kit Juckes, pointed out in a note the currency movements were the market’s way of “responding with the simplest ‘risk off’ reaction imaginable.”
NBC News projected GOP nominee Donald Trump to win the key battleground state of Ohio as well as North Carolina. He was also the apparent winner in Florida according to NBC News. Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton was the projected winner in Nevada and was projected to win Virginia by NBC News.
NBC News projected that Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Michigan, Maine, Arizona and Wisconsin were too close to call.
ThinkMarkets’ senior market analyst Matt Simpson warned in a morning note that with markets having priced in a Clinton victory previously, it left the potential for “some nasty whipsaws over the next eight to 12 hours” in the event of unexpected outcomes in individual states.
“Whilst markets seem optimistic going into this, we cannot help but feel some of these moves are a little too pre-emptive,” he said. “Expectations can (and usually do) lead to disappointment.”
The NBC News projections sent the Mexican peso tumbling. The peso had been closely watched during the election campaign as a barometer of the markets’ expectation of a Trump win. The peso weakened to a session low of 20.77, falling from an earlier high of 18.14. At 1:39 p.m. HK/SIN, the peso traded at 20.59 versus the dollar.
The Canadian dollar traded at 1.3476 versus the greenback as of 1:40 p.m. HK/SIN, weakening from an earlier high of 1.3260.
Both currencies have been on investors’ radar since Trump said in October he would renegotiate the trilateral North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) between the U.S., Canada and Mexico – an event that could have a negative impact on the economies of the latter two.
“The Trump victory would be detrimental to both economies,” Stephen Innes, a senior trader at OANDA told CNBC by email, explaining that a President Trump would be more detrimental to Mexico and the peso because it could “increase the odds of driving the (Mexican) economy into recession, given his protectionist rhetoric and likely tariff hike.”
The dollar index, which measures the greenback against a basket of currencies, traded at 96.14 as of 1:40 p.m. HK/SIN, slipping from its previous close at 97.86.
Elsewhere, the Australian dollar fell to $0.7611 as of 1:40 p.m. HK/SIN from an earlier high of $0.7771, while the British pound strengthened to $1.25, up from its last close at $1.23. The euro also gained on the dollar, fetching $1.12 at 1:41 a.m. HK/SIN, versus an earlier low of $1.09.