Asia Stocks Fall as North Korea Missile Launch Raises Tensions

  • Investors turn to U.S. Treasuries, gold as haven assets
  • Asian equity benchmark heads for biggest loss in two weeks

Markets React to N. Korea Firing Missile Over Japan

Asian equities fell, setting the region’s benchmark index for its first decline in three trading days after North Korea fired a ballistic missile that flew over Japan, ratcheting up geopolitical tension.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index decreased 0.2 percent to 160.15 as of 3:05 p.m. in Hong Kong, shaving an earlier loss of as much as 0.6 percent, with about two stocks falling for each one that advanced. Shares retreated in South Korea and in Japan, where Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said the overflight was “an unprecedented, grave and serious threat” and agreed in a phone call with U.S. President Donald Trump to increase pressure on North Korea.

“I don’t think we’d see war breaking out, but this has made investors risk averse,” said Nescyn Presinede, fund manager at Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. in Manila. “We will see a selloff in equities as investors turn towards so called safe haven assets like U.S. Treasuries and gold.”

Gold climbed to the highest level this year and Treasuries rallied.

Japan’s Topix halted a two-day rally, extending its loss for the month to 1.3 percent, while the yen strengthened. South Korea’s benchmark equities gauge fell for a second day, paring an earlier loss of as much as 1.6 percent as the won trimmed its decline against the dollar.

MSCI’s Asia-Pacific gauge has rallied 19 percent so far this year and on Aug. 2 closed at its highest since 2007 amid strong corporate earnings and optimism U.S. interest-rate increases will remain gradual. The stock gauge’s valuation has slipped since then.

Summary

  • Japan’s Topix -0.2%, Nikkei 225 -0.5%
    • Japan Stocks Set for Worst Month Since March on N. Korea Missile
    • No Reason to Change Japan Stock View Over N. Korea Risk: Resona
    • Japan Stocks Decline Limited as Investors Aware of Risk: Chibagin
  • Hang Seng Index -0.2%, Hang Seng China Enterprises Index -0.3%
  • Kospi -0.2%, Kospi 200 Index -0.3%
  • Shanghai Composite Index +0.1%, Taiwan’s Taiex Index -0.3%
  • Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index -0.7%, New Zealand’s NZX 50 -1.1%
  • FTSE Bursa Malaysia KLCI Index -0.5%, Philippine Stock Exchange Index -0.9%, Jakarta Composite Index -0.4%, Singapore Straits Times Index -0.5%, Vietnam’s VN Index -0.1%, Thailand’s SET Index +1.6%
    • Thai Stocks May Rally Further on Improving Politics, CLSA Says
  • India’s Sensex -0.8%
    • Indian Stocks Halt Four-Day Gain as Investors Spurn Risk
    • RBL Bank Advances After 5% of Equity Trades in 2 Blocks on BSE
    • Duds of Booming Indian Stock Market Win Over $20 Billion Manager
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