Published: Tue, April 18, 2017
Economy | By Melissa Porter

Asian shares mostly lower as North Korean tensions simmer

Japanese stocks fell to their lowest in more than four months on Wednesday as rising geopolitical tensions curbed risk appetite, with exporters badly hit as the safe-haven yen spiked to a five-month high.

On oil markets both main contracts saw further gains following Friday's U.S. strike in Syria, which raised speculation about the impact on exports from the crude-rich Middle East.

Carlin said investors have a "wait-and-see attitude" right now amid a dearth of economic data, and the beginning of the earnings season in the U.S. While the euro sagged against the yen, it fared better versus the struggling dollar. Hess was the biggest gainer in the S&P 500, climbing $1.93, or 4 percent, to $49.98.

The dollar was down 0.4 percent against the yen, which is a favourite in uncertain times due to Japan's position as the world's largest creditor nation.

North Korea said there could be "catastrophic consequences" after the US ordered the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier and its battle group to waters off the Korean Peninsula.

Energy companies led USA stock indexes to modest gains in afternoon trading Monday as the price of crude oil headed higher for the fifth day in a row.

The Nikkei volatility index jumped to a five-month high. The broader Topix index of all First Section issues on the Tokyo Stock Exchange was down 16.94 points, or 1.14 percent, to 1,462.60.

In central bank actions, Canada will probably hold its benchmark interest rate at 0.5 percent while Brazil will likely lower its key rate by a full percentage point, the biggest cut since 2009, as inflation has slowed by half in the previous year.

The Dow eased 0.03 per cent, while the S&P 500 lost 0.14 per cent and the Nasdaq 0.24 per cent.

The yield on 10-year Treasuries was flat, after dropped seven basis points to 2.297 percent on Tuesday.

In late NY trading, the euro fell to 1.0600 dollars from 1.0608 dollars, and the British pound added to 1.2497 dollars from 1.2491 USA dollars in the previous session. While the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index rose by 0.2 percent, the French CAC 40 Index edged down by 0.1 percent and the German DAX Index fell by 0.5 percent.

Japanese companies are scheduled to release later this month their earnings for the full year ended March 2017 and forecasts for the current fiscal year. The dollar weakened to 109.42 yen from 110.94 yen late Monday, the first time it has broken past the 110 level since mid-November.

"For good measure, Treasury yields approached the lowest level of the year". The common currency was up 0.1 per cent at US$1.0610, adding to modest overnight gains.

The Bank of Japan said that producer prices were up 0.2 percent on month in March - shy of expectations for a gain of 0.3 percent, which would have been unchanged from February following an upward revision from 0.2 percent.

The euro pushed higher against the dollar, with EUR/USD rising 0.14% to 1.0619. Brent crude, the standard for global oil prices, lost 11 cents to $55.87 a barrel.

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