Asia Stocks Mixed as Loss in Seoul Offset by Tokyo, Sydney Gains

  • Kospi among biggest decliners in Asia as U.S. shifts warships
  • Moves limited as threat of war seen low, First Shanghai says

Asian stocks were little changed as South Korean equities dropped amid concern that tension between the U.S. and North Korea will escalate, while a weaker yen buoyed Japanese shares.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index was down less than 0.1 percent as of 4:55 p.m. in Hong Kong. Japan’s Topix gauge closed 0.7 percent higher, and Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 added 0.9 percent. South Korea’s benchmark Kospi index dropped 0.9 percent after the U.S. diverted warships to waters near North Korea.

Korean stocks were falling more than shares in other Asian markets as investors closely watched the situation in the peninsula, said Linus Yip, a Hong Kong-based strategist at First Shanghai Securities Ltd. The declines were limited as the market sees no imminent war threats after the China-U.S. summit.

“Political tensions are on the rise again globally,” said Nicholas Teo, a trading strategist at KGI securities, in a note. “With the U.S. beginning a fresh campaign of bombing in the Middle East, together with terrorist attacks in Egypt and possibly also the one in the Swedish capital over the past days, the world’s markets may once more be at a grip of a fresh geopolitical onslaught.”

Traders were also watching the outlook of U.S. interest rates as Goldman Sachs raised the odds of a June hike to 70 percent from 60 percent.

Summary

  • Shanghai Composite -0.5%; Hang Seng China Enterprises Index -0.2%
    • Hong Kong’s property gauge climbed to 6-month high as city’s home prices rose to record high; Wharf Holdings +1.1%, Hang Lung Properties +1%
  • Taiwan’s Taiex +0.1%; Singapore’s Straits Times Index +0.1%
  • FTSE Bursa Malaysia KLCI -0.1%; Jakarta Composite Index -0.2%; India’s Sensex -0.2%

— With assistance by Jeff Sutherland, and Moxy Ying

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