Asian Stocks Slump as North Korea-US Tensions Thicken

August 12, 2017
Asian Stocks Slump as North Korea-US Tensions Thicken

By Investors Hub

Asian stocks fell across the board on Friday as the escalation in tensions surrounding North Korea continued to push investors towards safe-haven assets such as the Japanese yen, the Swiss franc and gold. The Japanese market was closed in observance of the Mountain Day holiday.

The U.S. dollar set an eight-week low against the yen after U.S. President Donald Trump further ratcheted up the rhetoric, suggesting that his “fire and fury” comments may not have been tough enough.

The president said “things will happen to them they never thought possible” should Pyongyang attack the U.S. or its allies.

The yen strengthened above ?109 for the first time since mid-June and oil extended overnight losses on persistent worries about oversupply, while gold prices hit their highest level in over two months.

China’s Shanghai Composite Index plunged 51.94 points or 1.6 percent to 3,209.80, as investors continued to book profits in cyclical sectors. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index plummeted 560.49 points or 2 percent to 26,883.51.

Australian shares fell to near three-week lows in a broad-based selloff. The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index and the broader All Ordinaries Index fell around 1.2 percent each to finish at 5,693.10 and 5,743.50, respectively.

NAB lost 1 percent despite the bank reporting a 5 percent rise in its third-quarter cash profit. ANZ fell 1.9 percent, Commonwealth shed 0.7 percent and Westpac declined 1.3 percent after RBA Governor Philip Lowe said the central bank is prepared to be patient on rates for quite some time.

Mining heavyweights BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto retreated 2-3 percent, while gold miners Evolution and Newcrest rose about 2 percent each. News Corp tumbled 5.4 percent and REA Group slumped 6 percent after disappointing full-year results.

Seoul shares hit 11-week low amid selling by foreign investors following Trump’s fresh warning to North Korea. The benchmark Kospi tumbled 39.76 points or 1.7 percent to 2,319.71, its lowest level since May 24th. For the week, the index lost over 3 percent to register its biggest weekly loss since February of 2016.

Dipo Olowookere

Dipo Olowookere is a journalist based in Nigeria that has passion for reporting business news stories. At his leisure time, he watches football and supports 3SC of Ibadan.

Mr Olowookere can be reached via [email protected]

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