ASIA MARKETS: Asian Markets End Mostly Higher, With Kospi Pushing Past Missile-launch News

Nikkei turns lower after brief yen rally

Some equities in Asia which started lower-- like Korea and Australia-- ended higher while Japan lost initial gains by day's end as investors largely held their breath ahead of Super Thursday.

Korea's Kospi closed up 0.3%, yet again shrugging off North Korea's latest missile launch. Korea's stocks and currency have been among the best performers this year in Asia.

North Korea fired multiple cruise missiles ( into the waters between Korea and Japan on Thursday morning, a day after Seoul said it would suspend any further deployment of a controversial missile-defense system to conduct an environmental review.

Meanwhile, the yen briefly rallied amid the prospects of the Bank of Japan eventually easing up a bit on easy money. But that move occurred ahead of the close of stock trading, resulting in the Nikkei falling 0.4%. The yen has since reversed the rally.

Data released Thursday showed Japan's economy growing at a slower pace in the first quarter than initially estimated ( But there is hope that this quarter's reading will be stronger.

"Consumer spending is picking up strongly," said Marcel Thieliant, a senior Japan economist at Capital Economics, adding that spending should remain a story throughout 2017. Spending in the first quarter, though, wasn't particularly strong, he said.

Poised to move markets in Asia tomorrow include still-to-come news from the U.K. election, the European Central Bank's meeting and testimony by James Comey, the former director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, on Capitol Hill.

Forex and equities are likely to move strongly if there's an election upset as traders "seemed to be pricing a May victory," said Hussein Sayed at brokerage FXTM, referring to U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May, who sought to expand the Conservative Party's majority in parliament through the snap general election.

Read: When do we know who won the U.K. election? (

In Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 swung higher to close up 0.2%. The index on Wednesday closed at its lowest level in four months and is down 1.9% so far this week. An overnight slump in oil prices weighed on Australian stocks during the session.

Oil Search (OSH.AU) fell 0.9% and Woodside Petroleum (WPL.AU) lost 1.6% in Sydney while Inpex (1605.TO) gave up 1% and Japan Petroleum Exploration (1662.TO) shed 1.4% in Tokyo. August futures for Brent crude , the international benchmark, recently rose 0.5% to $48.28 a barrel.

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

June 08, 2017 07:40 ET (11:40 GMT)