By Agence France-Presse
Asian stocks broadly slipped on Monday, with few solid trading cues after investors largely shrugged off an early-morning North Korean missile launch.
The short-range projectile flew for several minutes before landing in waters between the Korean peninsula and Japan — the latest in a series of launches that have raised tensions over the North’s bid to develop weapons capable of hitting the United States.
The political reaction in Asia was swift as Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe condemned the launch and vowed “concrete action” with the US.
South Korea’s new president, Moon Jae-In, ordered a meeting of the national security council to assess the launch.
Japan and South Korea are the nations most immediately threatened by Pyongyang’s provocations.
Most Asia-Pacific stock markets took the launch in their stride, with Tokyo’s benchmark Nikkei 225 index mostly higher before ending the day flat.
“The impact on the Tokyo market is limited,” Okasan Online Securities’ chief strategist Yoshihiro Ito said in a commentary.
South Korea’s Kospi index slipped 0.10 percent and Sydney fell 0.78 percent, while Hong Kong tacked on 0.24 percent.
Financial markets in mainland China and Taiwan were closed Monday for a public holiday.
Paris and Frankfurt opened slightly lower in early European trade, with London and, later on, Wall Street closed for holidays.
The major US indices finished Friday’s session essentially flat ahead of a three-day holiday weekend in the United States.
But US stocks nevertheless held onto gains won after a six-day rally — meaning the hair’s-breadth rise was all that was necessary to see the Nasdaq and S&P 500 break Thursday’s all-time highs.
Fresh economic data Friday showed the US economy was stronger in the first quarter than first reported.
“The US economy is steady, and the equity market is getting support from the view that even if growth slows down, it won’t crumble,” Shoji Hirakawa, chief global strategist at Tokai Tokyo Research Institute, told Bloomberg News.
Key figures around 0900 GMT
Tokyo – Nikkei 225: DOWN 0.02 percent at 19,682.57 (close)
Hong Kong – Hang Seng: UP 0.24 percent at 25,701.63 (close)
Shanghai – Composite: closed for holiday
London – FTSE 100 – closed for holiday
Euro/dollar: UP at $1.1184 from $1.1177
Dollar/yen: UP at 111.35 yen from 111.32 yen
Pound/dollar: UP at $1.2841 from $1.2808
Oil – Brent North Sea: DOWN 13 cents at $52.02 per barrel
Oil – West Texas Intermediate: DOWN 16 cents at $49.64
New York – Dow: FLAT at 21,080.28 (Friday close)
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