Moneycontrol
Sep 15, 2017 07:34 AM IST | Source: CNBC

Most Asia markets pressured after North Korea missile, dollar recoups losses

South Korea's benchmark Kospi index, however, came under some pressure. The index lost 0.46 percent in early trade.

Most Asia markets pressured after North Korea missile, dollar recoups losses

Most indexes in Asia were moderately lower on Friday after North Korea launched a missile in the direction of the east.

The unidentified missile flew over Japan before landing 2,000 km east of Hokkaido, Reuters said, citing Japanese broadcaster NHK. Following the North's latest launch, South Korea has responded by firing its own missile into the sea, according to Reuters.

The hermit state had warned through a state agency on Thursday that it would "sink" Japan, Reuters reported. North Korea had fired another ballistic missile which passed over northern Japan before falling into the sea on Aug. 29 local time.

By 8:38 a.m. HK/SIN, the dollar recouped losses against the safe-haven yen, trading at 110.13 yen after falling as low as 109.54 on the news. The Swiss franc, another safe-haven currency, traded at 0.9627 francs to the dollar after strengthening as high as 0.9610 earlier.

Gold prices climbed as high as USD 1,334.36 an ounce before paring gains to trade at USD 1,331.90 by 8:37 a.m. HK/SIN. Still, that remained a touch above the USD 1,329 seen before the news. The yellow metal is often regarded as a safe haven in times of geopolitical uncertainty.

In equities, Nikkei 225 shrugged off elevated geopolitical tensions in the region to advance 0.24 percent.

South Korea's benchmark Kospi index, however, came under some pressure. The index lost 0.46 percent in early trade. Defense names like Korea Aerospace and Victek rose 1.07 percent and 4.02 percent, respectively, while blue chips like Samsung Electronics and Hyundai Motor edged lower.

Down Under, the S&P/ASX 200 shed 0.39 percent with the 1.14 percent fall in the materials sub-index driving losses on the broader index.

Elsewhere, markets digested better-than-expected US August consumer prices released on Thursday. The consumer price index rose 0.4 percent in August, a touch above the 0.3 percent increased forecast by economists in a Reuters poll. Some investors speculated that the beat could potentially influence the US Federal Reserve to hike interest rates once more this year.

The Bank of England was also on the radar after it kept interest rates on hold at 0.25 percent, but noted that a withdrawal of monetary stimulus could be required "over the coming months." The pound traded as high as USD 1.3406 following the news compared to the USD 1.32 handle seen before.

Stateside, major indexes closed mixed. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 0.2 percent, or 45.3 points, to close at 22,203.48, but the tech-heavy Nasdaq underperformed, sliding 0.48 percent by the end of the session.

In corporate news, the contest to buy Toshiba's memory chip unit plodded along. Toshiba said Thursday that Western Digital "persistently overstates" its rights over the Japanese company's flash memory unit. Still, Toshiba said in its statement that it was committed to selling Toshiba Memory Corporation by March 2018. Toshiba stock rose 1.9 percent, leading gains among Japanese tech stocks that were largely mixed in early trade.

Meanwhile, bitcoin fell on Thursday after one of the largest exchanges in China announced it would stop all trading on Sept. 30. The cryptocurrency traded at USD 3,295.18 at 8:29 a.m. HK/SIN, compared to a record high of USD 5,013.91 touched earlier in September.

On the energy front, oil prices edged down after rising in the previous session on forecasts for stronger oil demand and the weaker dollar. Brent crude declined 0.27 percent to trade at USD 55.32 a barrel after hitting its highest levels in five months on Thursday. US West Texas Intermediate crude slipped 0.24 percent to USD 49.77.
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