Tokyo, Japan (BBN) – Asian shares were in positive territory on Wednesday morning, amid concerns over North Korea’s latest ballistic missile test which landed in the Sea of Japan.
The US military and South Korea’s Yonhap reported that the reclusive North Korea launched a medium-range ballistic missile from a land-based facility, ahead of a summit between US and Chinese leaders on Thursday and Friday, reports CNBC.
Following the missile test, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe cautioned that North Korea could take further action.
But one strategist told CNBC that North Korea’s latest missile test is not any different from previous acts of defiance.
He added that investors should not be overly concerned.
“Geopolitical tensions are something that you need to keep in mind but in most cases, it doesn’t actually impact your portfolio,” said Viktor Shvets, head of strategy at Macquarie Securities Group, adding that these tensions are here to stay in the near future.
A senior White House official said Tuesday evening US time that the meeting between President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping is seen as the first step in a “results-oriented relationship” and that the US president wants fair economic ties.
The official added that Trump sees North Korea as a test for the US-Chinese relationship.
The ASX 200 traded up 0.03 per cent, supported by the materials sub-index, which jumped 1.62 per cent, and the energy sub-index, which surged 1.13 per cent.
Japan’s benchmark index was higher by 0.27 per cent.
Toshiba has appealed to its creditors for a new loan, and offered a stake in its memory chip unit as collateral, Reuters reported.
Its semiconductor business is currently in the process of being split off, after the Japanese conglomerate reported a multi-billion dollar loss in its US nuclear power plant construction subsidiary.
Shares of Toshiba spiked 1.64 per cent.
South Korea’s Kospi was nearly flat, amid geopolitical concerns in the Korean peninsula.
South Korea’s central bank chief Lee Ju-yeol said policy efforts are needed to restore private consumption that have been affected by several factors, including the political scandal involving ousted President Park Geun-hye.
Mainland Chinese shares were positive after two days of public holiday.
The Shanghai composite gained 0.98 per cent and Shenzhen composite surged 1.45 per cent. Meanwhile, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index rose 0.24 per cent.
The Dow Jones industrial average was up 0.19 per cent at 20,689.24, the S&P 500 was nearly flat, up just 0.06 per cent at 2,360.16 and the Nasdaq composite gained 0.07 per cent to finish at 5,898.61.
Trump also said that his administration was working on “haircut” for the Dodd-Frank banking regulations, to make it easier for banks to loan money.
Asian banks were mostly in the doldrums. Major Japanese banks were in the red, with Mitsubishi UFJ and Mizuho Financial down by 0.94 and 0.80 per cent respectively.
Australia’s big four banks also traded lower, with National Australia Bank lower by 0.77 per cent and ANZ down by 0.53 per cent.
Chinese banks were mixed, with Bank of China lower by 0.54 per cent but China Construction Bank higher by 0.67 per cent.
On the currency front, the dollar last traded at 100.50 against a basket of currencies at 10:38am HK/SIN. Against the greenback, the yen was weaker at 110.73, versus levels around 111 seen earlier this week, and the Australian dollar was softer at $0.7568, slipping from the $0.7600 handle it traded at yesterday.
“The move lower in the Australian dollar was sparked by the RBA policy announcement yesterday afternoon,” said Rodrigo Catril, currency strategist at National Australia Bank, in a Wednesday note. The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) had left policy unchanged at 1.5 per cent on Tuesday, on the back of a weaker labor market and rising housing prices.
The Canadian dollar has weakened against the dollar overnight to a three-week low, after it posted an unexpected trade deficit as February exports tumbled.
The loonie last traded at C$1.3395 during Asian morning trade.
During Asian hours, global benchmark Brent crude traded up 0.28 per cent at $54.32 a barrel, and US crude was up 0.39 per cent at $51.23 after industry data in the US showed a bigger draw in US crude inventories than expected.
Crude oil prices on Tuesday US time rose close to a one-month high, after an unplanned production outage in the North Sea.
In other commodity news, Indonesia issued Freeport McMoRan’s local unit a temporary special mining permit to allow the miner to apply for a resumption of copper concentrate exports.
Ahead, the US is set to report its ADP employment change in March, ISM Services and the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) March meeting minutes.
Richmond Federal Reserve President Jeffrey Lacker resigned on Tuesday, after admitting that he may have disclosed confidential information about the Fed in 2012.
“As Lacker wasn’t currently a voting member, Trump sceptics may be pleased to hear his departure doesn’t provide Trump further control over reshaping the Fed,” said Matt Simpson, senior market analyst at ThinkMarkets, in a note.