Sun, Apr 16, 2017 - Page 14 News List

Asian stocks fall, yen rises as geopolitical risks grow


Stocks from Taipei to Tokyo dropped, while the yen gained, amid an uptick in political tension after a US bombing in Afghanistan and comments from a North Korean official.

Trading was thin with many markets around the world closed Friday for the Good Friday holiday.

Japan’s TOPIX capped its longest string of weekly losses in 15 months after the US dropped the largest non-nuclear bomb it has ever used in combat on Islamic State positions in Afghanistan.

The yen erased declines and equity markets open in Asia extended losses as a North Korean official said the country “will go to war” if the US chooses to provoke it.

The action in Afghanistan came a week after US President Donald Trump authorized missile strikes against Syria for a chemical weapons attack on civilians.

It also coincides with rising concern that North Korea might conduct another nuclear test or missile launch.

Trump has vowed that the US will act to stop North Korea’s nuclear program unless China manages to constrain its neighbor.

North Korea said Trump is “making trouble” with “aggressive” tweets, the Associated Press reported, citing an interview with North Korea’s Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Han Song-ryol.

North Korea will not “keep our arms crossed” in the event of a US pre-emptive strike, the official said.

Traders are also trying to get a handle on Trump’s fiscal and economic plans following his remarks on Wednesday, in which he called the US dollar too strong, signaled a softening in his stance on China’s currency practices and left open the possibility of reappointing US Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen.

Asian markets including Taiwan, China, Japan and South Korea were open on Friday.

Shares in Taiwan took a beating, losing more than 1 percent as investor sentiment was affected by rising geopolitical tensions after the US bombing in Afghanistan, dealers said.

The weighted index on the Taiwan Stock Exchange lost 103.75 points, or 1.05 percent, to close at 9,732.93, down 1.4 percent from last week’s 9,873.37 points.

The TOPIX on Friday fell 0.6 percent to the lowest closing level since Nov. 22 last year.

The index dropped for a fifth straight week, the longest losing streak since December 2015.

South Korea’s KOSPI dropped 0.6 percent, after rallying 0.9 percent on Thursday. The gauge lost 0.8 percent for the week.

The Shanghai Composite Index slipped 0.9 percent, also capping a weekly decline.

Russia’s Micex slumped 0.6 percent, bringing its loss for the week to more than 4 percent, the worst showing since the middle of January.

Additional reporting by CNA

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