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Asia markets mixed as N Korea tensions subside

Tuesday 02:45 BST

Overview

Stocks across Asia were mixed as a handful of major markets reopened after the Easter long weekend, and despite a slight slowing in demand for haven assets as tensions surrounding North Korea eased.

Hot topic

North Korea remains a focal point. Pyongyang’s failed missile launch on Saturday is keeping markets on alert, but tensions appear to have subsided, with US Treasuries and gold trading lower.

The yield — which moves inversely to price — on the 10-year US Treasury was up 0.2 basis point at 2.2516 per cent, while gold was down slightly at $1.284.48 an ounce.

Equities

Japan’s benchmark Topix was up 0.6 per cent as the yen weakened, offering some respite to exporters. However, the Japanese was still above ¥110 to the US dollar.

Australia’s S&P/ASX 200, trading for the first time since Thursday, dropped 0.9 per cent. Losses were driven by declines for energy and materials stocks, with slides of more than 6 per cent for gold miners such as Newcrest Mining, Regis Resources and Resolute Mining.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng, also returning from the Easter long weekend, opened flat. China’s Shanghai Composite was off 0.2 per cent.

The S&P 500 closed 0.9 per cent higher on Monday in New York.

Forex

With the level of stress in markets easing from last week, the yen was 0.2 per cent weaker at ¥109.11 per dollar.

The Australian dollar was down 0.3 per cent at $0.7567, not far from a session-low struck after minutes from the Reserve Bank of Australia’s April meeting showing the central bank judged the weaker labour market and continued rise of house prices “warranted careful monitoring”.

The US dollar index, a measure of the greenback against a basket of global peers, was up 0.1 per cent at 100.35.

Commodities

Brent crude, the international oil benchmark, was up 0.1 per cent at $55.40 a barrel, after dropping 1 per cent on Monday. West Texas Intermediate was flat at $52.65.

The price of iron ore futures for September delivery was down 3.1 per cent at Rmb485 ($70.42) per tonne on the Dalian Commodity Exchange, bringing declines since a mid-February high to nearly 28 per cent.

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