ASIA MARKETS: Asian Stocks Mostly Retreat After North Korea's Latest Missile Test

Nikkei is the exception, rising slightly despite gains by yen

Asian stocks were broadly lower following North Korea's latest missile launch over Japan, but equities there rose slightly even as the yen strengthened.

Moves across markets were largely modest early on, echoing how Asian market participants across asset classes have largely reacted to most of North Korea's missile launches this year. Although there was a brief selloff following the country's nuclear-bomb test earlier this month.

Friday's missile launch is "not a real escalation of what has happened so far," said Woon Tian Yong, an analyst at Informa Global Markets. "This is not something we have not seen before. Markets are not going to take this too [seriously]."

Spot-gold prices rose just 0.1% following the launch, and the yen reversed much of the knee-jerk gains that occurred when news of the test first broke.

As Japan's Nikkei Stock Average was recently up 0.1%, despite a bit of a rebound overnight in the yen that some analysts said was not enough to single-handedly cap stocks there, South Korea' Kospi index fell 0.4%.

While there has been muted movement into havens so far Friday, "this situation seems like an emergency," said Takahiro Sekido, Japan strategist with Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ.

There had been a strong rebound in global equities at the start of the week, as worries about North Korea, among other things, faded after ramping up into the end of last week. But optimism cooled in the past couple of days as investors moved back into wait-and-see mode. That is liable to continue with a U.S. Federal Reserve meeting next week.

Underperforming in Asia were stocks in Hong Kong and Australia , with benchmarks in both down some 0.6%. Impacting those markets were declines of as much as 1% in major bank stocks. Weakness in Chinese lenders has been pressuring Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index in recent days. Lenders are also pushing the market lower in Singapore .

Meanwhile, oil futures fell some 0.5% in Asia, extending weakness seen in U.S. afternoon trading after having risen every day this week. As such, the latest North Korea test provided a handy reason for oil investors to pull back a touch.

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

September 14, 2017 23:06 ET (03:06 GMT)