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Asia stocks suffer, havens climb following North Korea missile launch

The launch by North Korea of a ballistic missile that flew over Japan prompted market tumult on Tuesday as investors in Asia sought havens and stocks suffered.

Seoul’s Kospi index fell as much as 1.1 per cent following the launch, with Samsung Electronics down as much as 2 per cent. The South Korean conglomerate was down 4.6 per cent since the Friday jailing of heir apparent Lee Jae-yong for corruption.

Havens were on the upswing, with the yen strengthening against the dollar to an intraday high of ¥108.34, its firmest level since mid-April. Gold was up as much as 0.9 per cent in Asia trading at $1,322.41 an ounce following the launch, its highest level since November 9.

The yen’s gains translated to losses for Japanese financial stocks, which were down 0.7 per cent in morning trade. The broader Topix index was down 0.4 per cent in Tokyo.

Heightened tensions in the region also boosted bonds, pushing the yield on the 10-year US Treasury down 3 bp to 2.129 per cent. That on the equivalent South Korean note was up 2 bp at 2.251 per cent, however.