Asia Pacific equities were at least partly on a firmer footing as US officials sought to ease tensions with North Korea following a war of words between President Trump and Kim Jong Un on Wednesday.
US secretary of state Rex Tillerson said “I think Americans should sleep well at night, have no concerns about this particular rhetoric of the last few days,” following on from his comments earlier in the day when he said North Korea posed “imminent threat”. His statements came after North Korea threatened to consider a missile strike against the US Pacific territory of Guam and Donald Trump vowed to meet threats with “fire and fury”.
The rush to haven assets tapered on Thursday with the Japanese yen holding flat at ¥110.01 against the dollar while the Swiss franc weakened 0.1 per cent to SFr0.9633 after strengthening 1.1 per cent on Wednesday.
Gold was hovering at a two-month high at $1,276.23 after jumping 1.3 per cent in the previous session on the geopolitical tensions. The yield on the 10-year US Treasury was down 1.2 basis points at 2.249 per cent after hitting a six-week low of 2.212 per cent on Wednesday. The dollar index, a measure of the greenback against a basket of its peers was 0.1 per cent stronger at 93.620.
South Korea’s benchmark Kospi index remained weaker, however, falling 0.7 per cent to a seven-week low and the South Korean won was still under pressure, hovering at a four-week low of Won1,141.40 to the dollar.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index was down 1.2 per cent as the financials and real estate sectors fell 1.6 per cent. Developer Wharf Holdings was the worst performer on the index falling 7.6 per cent after the company’s share price surged 14 per cent on Wednesday after it announced plans to spin off its prime Hong Kong property portfolio.
Japan’s Topix index was down 0.1 per cent as gains for energy stocks and the consumer staples sector offset a 1.1 per cent fall for financials.
Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 was up 0.3 per cent as the financials sector rose the same amount.