Asian markets were lower on Wednesday afternoon and the U.S. dollar struggled as traders and analysts responded to news that a formal impeachment inquiry was opened against U.S. President Donald Trump. On Tuesday, Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi accused Trump of betraying his oath of office and compromising national security by asking for help Ukranian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate the son of Joe Biden, former U.S. vice-president who is running against Trump in the 2020 elections. The call for an impeachment inquiry came after Trump was found to have had a private conversation with Zelensky on July 25. Trump has said that he would release the transcript of the call, but he hasn’t moved to do so at this time.
President Trump has admitted that he discussed the Biden family with President Zelensky and has confirmed his attempt to withhold approximately $400 million of military aid to Ukraine before calling Zelensky. Trump ascertains that this decision was not related to his call or to the Bidens, but that he was trying to convince European leaders to contribute to Ukraine’s military costs without the U.S. shouldering the burden inequitably.
Asian markets were broadly lower on Wednesday afternoon. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index slumped 1.15 percent as of 2:07 p.m. HK/SIN, and South Korea’s Kospi eased 1 percent. Japan’s Nikkei 225 was 0.38 percent lower, and Australia’s ASX 200 was down 0.46 percent. Both of China’s benchmark indexes were also trading in the red. The downward trend in Asia came after a day of losses on Wall Street where all three benchmark indexes closed lower.
On the currency markets, the U.S. dollar was higher on Wednesday afternoon, with the dollar index trading up 0.20 percent to 98.54 .DXY. The greenback gained 0.25 percent against the yen, trading at 107.32. The British pound eased 0.22 percent against the dollar, to trade at $1.246, while the euro eased 0.18 percent to $1.0998.
Impeachment inquiries have been opened against four previous U.S. presidents, none of whom were actually forced out of office. Still, the drama and uncertainty surrounding such proceedings is likely to cause turbulence for the dollar in the near term.