Yen Gains, Aussie Falls as North Korea Fires Missile Over Japan
- North Korea launched a missile towards Japan in illiquid early Asia trade
- Japanese Yen gains, Aussie and New Zealand Dollar fall in risk-off move
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The beginning of Tuesday’s trading session was met with fireworks after reports crossed the wires of North Korea firing a missile towards Japan. Both Japanese and South Korean officials had confirmed the event and the missile’s trajectory. During the relatively illiquid hours between the New York close and Tokyo open, the Japanese Yen climbed while the Australian and New Zealand Dollars fell in what appeared to be ‘risk-off’ trade.
Some would likely point to the Yen’s response as evidence of the currency’s “safe haven” status. However, that seems incongruous given that currency’s very country was seen as being at-risk in the headlines. What is more probable is an unwinding of long risk positions such as the FX carry trade whereby considerable exposure is still held with the JPY as the funding currency (short side of the exposure).
In addition, there was also uneven reaction in the markets from other well-known safe havens including the US Dollar and gold. After the short downtime before after-hours futures trading ended however, both the precious metal and S&P 500 futures adjusted with clear sentiment changes (a jump and drop respectively). The currency however, remained unmoved. In times of concern when the markets sole concern is the pursuit of safety such as during the Great Financial Crisis, the USD is oftentimes seen as a beneficiary to the repositioning often labeled as ‘panic’.