Asian stocks rise after North Korea refrains from launch

By KELVIN CHAN Markets Associated Press

Asian stocks rose strongly Monday after Hurricane Irma weakened and North Korea marked a weekend holiday with celebrations but refrained from launching more missiles, giving investors some relief.

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KEEPING SCORE: Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 index jumped 1.4 percent to 19,552.79 as the yen bounced off its lowest level this year, easing pressure on exporters. South Korea's Kospi advanced 0.9 percent to 2,365.08, Hong Kong's Hang Seng added 1 percent to 27,935.47 and the Shanghai Composite in mainland China rose 0.5 percent to 3,381.20. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 added 0.6 percent to 5,706.70. Taiwan's benchmark lost ground and Southeast Asian benchmarks rose.

PYONGYANG PARTY: North Koreans observed the country's 69th founding anniversary with celebrations that included laying flowers and bowing at statues and portraits of past leaders. But Pyongyang did not carry out another test of its developmental intercontinental ballistic missile, as South Korea's government had warned it might do.

STORMY WEATHER: Investors were waiting for damage assessments after Hurricane Irma battered Florida's coastline, knocking out power to millions and flooding the financial district in downtown Miami and toppling two construction cranes there. The storm was now headed for the heavily populated Tampa-St. Petersburg area, though in a weakened state. Irma was a Category 5 storm when it battered Cuba but was downgraded after hitting Florida.

MARKET INSIGHT: "This weekend was a case of the dog that didn't bark, or at least, not very loudly," said Rob Carnell, head of Asia research at ING. "North Korea did not launch a new missile, and Hurricane Irma was downgraded, though still looks like it will cause considerable damage, and mess up all the economic data for the next month or so."

WALL STREET: Major U.S. benchmarks ended Friday with little change. The Standard & Poor's 500 index lost 0.1 percent to 2,461.43. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 0.1 percent to 21,797.79. The Nasdaq composite dropped 0.6 percent to 6,360.19.

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ENERGY: Oil futures rebounded, with benchmark U.S. crude rising 37 cents to $47.85 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract skidded $1.61, or 3.3 percent, to settle at $47.48 a barrel on Friday. Brent crude, used to price international oils, rose 27 cents to $54.05 a barrel in London.

CURRENCIES: The dollar rose to 108.48 yen from 107.84 yen on Friday. The euro dipped to $1.2009 from $1.2038.