TOKYO: Asian shares rallied and the dollar firmed on Tuesday after North Korea’s leader signalled that he would delay plans to fire a missile near Guam, easing tensions and prompting investors to move back into beaten-down riskier assets. MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan extended early gains and rose 0.4 per cent by late morning, with Australia up 0.7 per cent. South Korea’s markets were closed for a holiday.
Helped as well by a weaker yen, Japan’s Nikkei stock index was 1.3 per cent higher at the end of morning trading, a day after skidding 1 per cent to a 3-1/2 month low.
“Worries about a conflict between the United States and North Korea are not completely gone, but the market seems to be settled now,” said Masashi Oda, general manager at the strategic investment department at Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Asset Management.
On Wall Street on Monday, US stocks recovered from last week’s selloff, when fears of such a conflict helped wipe out nearly $1 trillion from global equity markets. The S&P 500 posted its biggest one-day percentage gain since April.
S&P 500 e-mini futures were up 0.3 in Asian trade.
North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un received a report from his army on its plans to fire missiles towards Guam and said he will watch the actions of the United States for a while longer before making a decision, the North’s official news agency said on Tuesday.
US President Donald Trump did not have any fresh words for Pyongyang, but Defense Secretary Jim Mattis warned on Monday that the US military would be prepared to intercept a missile fired by North Korea if it was headed to Guam.
“We have North Korea saying they will wait, and Trump not saying anything at all, compared to his past promise of ‘fire and fury,’” said Mitsuo Imaizumi, chief FX strategist at Daiwa Securities.
“That added up to good news for the dollar, bad news for the yen,” he said. The yen tends to gain in times of crisis on assumptions that Japanese investors will repatriate assets.
The dollar was up 0.5 per cent at 110.17 yen, pulling further away from last Friday’s low of 108.72 yen, while the euro gained 0.5 per cent to 129.80 yen.
The euro was flat on the day against the dollar at $1.1784, while the dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of six major rivals, added 0.1 per cent to 93.480.
Against the Swiss franc the dollar edged higher, after jumping more than 1 per cent on Monday. Higher US yields also gave the dollar a lift. The yield on the benchmark 10-year US Treasury note rose to 2.243 per cent from its US close of 2.218 per cent on Monday.
The dollar rose as traders unwound their bearish bets made last week after Friday’s disappointing US inflation data dampened expectations that the Federal Reserve would raise interest rates again this year.
But New York Fed President William Dudley rekindled rate-hike hopes on Monday, saying that it was not unreasonable to think the central bank would begin trimming its $4.2 trillion balance sheet in September and raise rates again this year, provided economic data holds up. Market pricing for the odds of a December hike has moved back to roughly 50-50. Spot gold prices fell 0.5 per cent to $1,275.62 an ounce, extending their fall from Monday when they shed half a per cent. — Reuters