Asian stock markets are in negative territory and the safe-haven yen strengthened Friday on rising geopolitical tensions after North Korea fired a ballistic missile over the Japanese archipelago earlier in the day, its second launch within a month. South Korea’s military said it fired two ballistic missiles into the sea in response to North Korea’s provocation.
The Australian market is lower for a third straight day following the mostly negative cues overnight from Wall Street and as North Korea’s firing of another missile over Japan reignited geopolitical tensions.
In late-morning trades, the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is losing 21.60 points or 0.40 percent to 5,717.10, off a low of 5,712.80. The broader All Ordinaries Index is down 19.60 points or 0.34 percent to 5,778.80.
Among the major miners, BHP Billiton is losing more than 1 percent , Rio Tinto is down almost 2 percent and Fortescue Metals is down more than 2 perecnt after iron ore prices declined overnight.
In the banking sector, ANZ Banking, Commonwealth Bank, Westpac and National Australia Bank are lower in a range of 0.2 percent to 0.6 percent.
Oil stocks are also weak despite higher crude oil prices. Santos is declining almost 1 percent, Woodside Petroleum is down 0.4 percent and Oil Search is lower by 0.3 percent.
Gold miners are mixed despite gold prices rising overnight. Newcrest Mining is adding 0.3 percent, while Evolution Mining is down 0.2 percent.
Shares of Qantas Airways are down 0.4 percent ahead of the carrier releasing its annual financial results later today.
In the currency market, the Australian dollar is slightly lower on Friday against the U.S. dollar, which received a brief boost from U.S. consumer price inflation data before turning lower. In early trades, the local unit was trading at US$0.7994, down from US$0.7996 on Thursday.
The Japanese market shrugged off a weak start and is modestly higher, while the safe-haven yen strengthened on renewed geopolitical tensions after North Korea fired a ballistic missile over Japan.
In late-morning trades, the benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is up 25.12 points or 0.13 percent to 19,832.56, off a low of 19,787.65 in early trades.
Among the major exporters, Canon is advancing almost 1 percent, Mitsubishi Electric is rising 0.6 percent and Panasonic is edging up less than 0.1 percent, while Sony is down 0.3 percent.
Among automakers, Toyota is adding 0.6 percent and Honda is advancing almost 1 percent. In the banking sector, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial…