Investors Flock to Safe Havens on Italy Uncertainty

Global stock markets were broadly lower on Monday morning as investors fled from stocks and looked towards safe haven assets such as gold and the Japanese yen, prompted by worries about the Italian election which is shaping up to produce a hung parliament. Though the final votes have yet to be counted, Italian voters showed their broad support for far-right and anti-establishment parties, preventing all of the country’s three main factions from garnering the majority needed to rule independently. A right-wing alliance has thus far earned the most votes, beating the anti-establishment 5-Star Party which has earned its place as the country’s largest party.

The Italian election, combined with the contentious trade talks surrounding NAFTA and President Trump’s proposed tariffs on steel and aluminum imports have made traders skittish about the global stock and equities markets. Canada and Mexico threatened to retaliate if Trump’s plan was implemented, and the European Union threatened to implement 25 percent tariffs on nearly $3.5 billion of U.S. imports if the plan crystalizes. Though it didn’t propose an immediate retaliatory stance, China hinted that it will have no choice but to defend its interests if damaging trade policies go into effect.

Market Movements

Japan’s Nikkei 225 index was down 0.66 percent as of 3:08 p.m. HK/SIN on Monday while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index was down 1.35 percent, though it was up slightly from lows hit earlier in the session. South Korea’s Kospi was down 1.13 percent and Australia’s ASX 200 was down 0.57 percent. Only the Shanghai Composite bucked the trend, eking out 0.03 percent gains in the early afternoon in Asia.

The dollar declined for the fourth consecutive session on Monday, trading down 0.26 percent to 105.46 yen, and hovering near Friday’s low of 105.23, a low not hit since November 2016. Safe haven gold was also higher both on investor fears and the lower dollar, trading up 0.32 percent to $1,327.70 per ounce. Silver and platinum were also trading higher.

Sara Patterson has a Master’s Degree in political science and enjoys analyzing both current events and the international markets to get a fuller perspective of the currency market. Before turning to financial writing, she taught English writing skills to high-school age students. Sara’s work has been published on various financial and Forex blogs.