Tun Mahathir pulls off a stunner as he leads the opposition to victory
Sentiment on the ground was for a closely-contested election result, but as the votes trickle in during the evening and through the night, the overwhelming tide of the people hinted at a wind of change for the country.
As for impact to the currency, offshore (NDFs) USD/MYR rose to a high of 4.0460 upon the result as the onshore market will be closed until the following week. Onshore USD/MYR last traded between 3.9400 and 3.9500. Investors may be taken aback by the result, but after the last general election in 2013, the outcome here is not within the realms of “out of this world” surely.
There will be lingering uncertainties surrounding policies and how the country will go forward economically – especially ties and investments with the Middle East and China – but overall confidence in the new government and its leadership should remain high as Tun is an experienced leader having been prime minister of the country from 1981 to 2003.
That will at least help to settle some nerves of investors, but the initial response is not surprising. Markets don’t like change, more so when it comes to the ones involving politics as it is difficult to size up. Given that local markets are closed until next week, investors will have plenty of time to digest the results here.
But one risk to watch out for is how credit rating agencies will start to view Malaysia sovereigns. If they’re erring to the side of negative, then that will impact the currency too (in terms of inflows/outflows) as Malaysia relies heavily only sovereigns to draw foreign investment because of its high yields.
In the end, the fundamental backstory of the Malaysian economy still paints a solid picture on the domestic front. And now with the elections out of the way, that should be a boost to local stocks. The real risk to equities and the currency is just like all else in the region: China and the emerging market story.
Power to the people!