Asia shares fall after lat­est mis­sile launch

Yuma Sun - - OPINION -

HONG KONG — Asian stocks were mostly lower Fri­day after North Korea fired off an­other mis­sile over Ja­pan, ratch­et­ing up geopo­lit­i­cal ten­sions and dent­ing in­vestor sen­ti­ment. Ja­pan’s bench­mark Nikkei 225 in­dex edged up 0.1 per­cent to 19,835.30 but South Korea’s Kospi lost 0.4 per­cent to 2,369.32. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng fell 0.7 per­cent to 27,571.42 and the Shang­hai Com­pos­ite in main­land China shed 0.6 per­cent to 3,353.11. Aus­tralia’s S&P/ASX 200 sank 0.6 per­cent to 5,704.90.

North Korea launched an in­ter­me­di­ate-range mis­sile that flew 3,700 kilo­me­ters (2,300 miles), set­ting off alarms as it flew over Ja­pan to land in the Pa­cific Ocean. The launch was the lat­est sign of Py­ongyang’s will­ing­ness to defy in­ter­na­tional opin­ion as it moves closer to build­ing up a mil­i­tary ar­se­nal tar­get­ing U.S. forces.

“Risk-off sen­ti­ment is at the front and cen­ter of mar­kets once again with North Korea’s lat­est mis­sile fir­ing,” said Jingyi Pan, mar­ket strate­gist at IG in Sin­ga­pore. “Asian shares are ex­pected to be weighed with the height­en­ing of ten­sions as in­vestors di­gest re­ac­tions from world lead­ers.”

In­vestors were also di­gest­ing the first of a batch of U.S. eco­nomic data as they await the Fed’s next move on in­ter­est rates. Data re­leased Thurs­day showed U.S. con­sumer prices rose in Au­gust at their fastest pace in seven months, a pos­si­ble sign in­fla­tion is pick­ing up pace. In­dus­trial pro­duc­tion and re­tail sales fig­ures are due Fri­day, which could pro­vide more hints on whether the Fed, which meets next week, will re­main on track to raise rates by the end of the year.

Ma­jor U.S. bench­marks ended mostly lower. The Stan­dard & Poor’s 500 in­dex slid 0.1 per­cent to 2,495.62. The Dow Jones in­dus­trial av­er­age rose 0.2 per­cent to 22,203.48. The Nas­daq com­pos­ite slumped 0.5 per­cent to 6,429.08.

Oil was hov­er­ing near its seven-week high. Bench­mark U.S. crude fu­tures slipped 23 cents to $49.67 a bar­rel in elec­tronic trad­ing on the New York Mer­can­tile Ex­change. The con­tract rose 59 cents, or 1.2 per­cent, to set­tle at $49.89 a bar­rel Thurs­day, the high­est clos­ing price since the end of July. Brent crude, used to price in­ter­na­tional oils, shed 35 cents to $55.12 bar­rel in London.

BY THE NUM­BERS Dow Jones In­dus­tri­als: +45.30 to 22,203.48 Stan­dard & Poor’s: – 2.75 to 2,495.62 Nas­daq Com­pos­ite In­dex: - 31.10 to 6,429.08

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