Asian shares mostly lower on hurricane, North Korea worries

By YURI KAGEYAMAMarketsAssociated Press

Asian shares mostly slipped Friday as worries remained about the damage from Hurricane Irma in the U.S., as well as lingering fears about ballistic missile launches and nuclear weapons in North Korea.

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KEEPING SCORE: Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 slid 0.3 percent to 19,340.25 in early trading, as GDP data that got revised lower also dampened sentiments. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 fell 0.2 percent to 5,676.10. South Korea's Kospi lost 0.2 percent to 2,341.71. Hong Kong's Hang Seng added nearly 0.6 percent to 27,673.34, while the Shanghai Composite was little changed at 3,366.80.

JAPAN ECONOMY: The Japanese economy grew at a slower pace in the April-June quarter, not the surprisingly strong spurt indicated by an earlier estimate, according to revised government data. The Cabinet Office said the gross domestic product or GDP — the total value of a nation's goods and services — grew at an annualized rate of 2.5 percent. That second preliminary reading is a dramatic adjustment from the first preliminary reading, released last month, of 4.0 percent growth.

HURRICANE DAMAGE: U.S. insurance companies' shares have plunged as investors weigh the prospects of big losses caused by Hurricane Irma, which has slammed the north Caribbean and is projected to reach Florida this weekend.

WALL STREET: The Standard & Poor's 500 index edged down 0.44 points to 2,465.10. The Dow Jones industrial average dipped 22.86 points, or 0.1 percent, to 21,784.78. The Nasdaq composite rose 4.55 points, or 0.1 percent, to 6,397.87.

THE QUOTE: "Anxieties ahead of Saturday's North Korea founders day and another potential missile launch appear to have kept investors off the South Korea and Japan bourses this morning. Meanwhile, the final figures from Japan's Q2 GDP had also significantly dampened the Japanese market," said Jingyi Pan, markets strategist at IG.

EUROPE ECONOMY: The European Central Bank left its key interest rates and bond-purchase stimulus program unchanged, but investors expect the bank to start reducing its stimulus program soon as the European economy continues to improve.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude added 6 cents to $49.15 a barrel. It fell 7 cents to $49.09 a barrel in New York Thursday. Brent crude, used to price international oils, gained 12 cents to $54.61 a barrel in London.

CURRENCIES: The dollar is falling after the European Central Bank raised its economic growth forecast for the region this year. The euro strengthened to $1.2024 from $1.1925. The dollar fell to 108.42 yen from 109.08 yen late Thursday.


AP Markets Writer Marley Jay contributed to this report and can be reached at

His work can be found at

AP Business Writer Alex Veiga contributed to this story from Los Angeles.

AP Business Writer Yuri Kageyama can be reached at

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