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Asian Stocks Post Gains But North Korea Remains In Focus

Asian Stocks Post Gains But North Korea Remains In Focus

David Cottle, Analyst

Talking Points

  • Asian bourses were broadly higher, even if some were off their best levels for the day
  • North Korea remains the markets’ focus but a dearth of news gave investors breathing space
  • Australian construction data raised overall GDP hopes

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Asian stocks were up but in many cases off their highs Wednesday despite initial gains for many indexes as investors regrouped following North Korea’s shock missile launch of the day before.

The United Nations has strongly condemned Pyongyang’s actions, while US President Donald Trump said that all options remain on the table when it comes to dealing with the rogue state. North Korean President Kim Jong Un for his part called for more weapons tests, so it seems very unlikely that market disruption from this quarter is at an end.

Still, the Nikkei 225 added 0.7%, the Hang Seng rose 1%. Australia’s ASX and the Shanghai Composite were just higher, up 0.1% each into the close.

The US Dollar pulled back a little from the four-month lows hit against the Yen on Tuesday and ticked up against many of its most widely traded rivals as well. Meanwhile the New Zealand Dollar took a short hit from Reserve Bank of New Zealand Governor Graeme Wheeler, who attempted to talk it down yet again in Auckland. Across the Tasman Sea the Australian Dollar got a modest lift from quarterly construction data which knocked forecasts clear out of the park. The other main piece of regional data came from Japan’s retail sector. It was generally upbeat, in contrast with Tuesday’s household spending rout, but the Yen market took little obvious interest.

Gold prices inched up initially only to steady. The metal is still finding buyers as investors nervously eye North Korea but a dearth of news from that direction Wednesday has sapped the market of energy.

Benchmark crude oil prices lost about 15 dollars/barrel apiece on news that Hurricane Harvey has now taken around 20% of US refining capacity offline, obviously limiting demand for crude until they come back up. Gasoline prices continued to rise.

The rest of the session will offer German consumer price data and UK public borrowing figures out of Europe. From the US will come the latest mortgage-application snapshot, employment change data from Automatic Data Processing a second look at Gross Domestic Product and personal consumption numbers. Oil inventory data are coming up from the Department of Energy too.

--- Written by David Cottle, DailyFX Research

Contact and follow David on Twitter: @DavidCottleFX

DailyFX provides forex news and technical analysis on the trends that influence the global currency markets.