Asian shares, U.S. stock futures, dollar slip on rising Korean tensions

Lisa Twaronite
TOKYO (Reuters) – Asian shares and U.S. stock futures slipped while U.S. Treasuries, gold and the safe-haven yen rose in early Asian trading on Wednesday after tensions on the Korean peninsula escalated with Pyongyang’s warning that it is “carefully examining” plans for a missile strike on the U.S. Pacific territory of Guam.

Just hours after U.S. President Donald Trump told North Korea that any threat to the United States would be met with “fire and fury,” a spokesman for the Korean People’s Army said in a statement carried by the North’s state-run KCNA news agency that it was considering a strike aimed at U.S. military bases on Guam.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS was down 0.2 percent in early trading, while Japan’s Nikkei was 1.2 percent lower as the stronger yen sapped investors’ appetite.

South Korean shares .KS11 were down 0.9 percent and the won was 0.6 percent lower at 1,134.10 at 0048 gmt.

S&P 500 e-mini futures ESc1 were down 0.2 percent, while the dollar dipped 0.2 percent against its perceived safe-haven Japanese counterpart to 110.12 yen JPY=.

The euro slid 0.3 percent to 129.34 yen EURJPY=, and fell 0.1 percent against the dollar to $1.1743 EUR=.

“It’s a clear case of ‘risk-off’ sentiment lifting the yen, as investors focus on the latest developments with North Korea,” said Kumiko Ishikawa, FX market analyst at Sony Financial Holdings in Tokyo.

Thin liquidity could also amplify market moves, she added, with markets in Singapore closed for a public holiday, and many market participants in Japan taking time off this week ahead of a public holiday on Friday.

The dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of six major rivals, was nearly flat on the day at 93.657 .DXY, remaining above last week’s 15-month low of 92.548.

The yield on the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury note US10YT=RR fell to 2.254 percent from its U.S. close of 2.282 percent on Tuesday.

Spot gold XAU= added 0.2 percent to $1,262.35 an ounce, pulling away from the previous session’s two-week lows. [GOL/]

U.S. stocks closed lower on Tuesday after a late afternoon selling spree as investors fled for safety after Trump’s vow to respond aggressively to any North Korean threats. [.N]

Japan said on Tuesday it was possible that North Korea had already developed nuclear warheads and warned of an acute threat posed by its weapons programmes as Pyongyang’s continues missile and nuclear tests in defiance of U.N. sanctions.

Crude oil prices extended their slide from Tuesday as exports from key OPEC producers rose and despite news of lower crude shipments from Saudi Arabia. [O/R]

U.S. crude CLc1 shed 12 cents to $49.05 a barrel, while Brent crude LCOc1 fell 18 cents a barrel at $51.96 a barrel.

Reporting by Lisa Twaronite; Editing by Eric Meijer

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