TOKYO — Asian shares were mostly lower Monday, on investor jitters shaken up by a North Korean nuclear test over the weekend that raised fears about risks to regional stability.
KEEPING SCORE: Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 edged down 0.9 per cent to finish at 19,508.25, while Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 lost 0.4 per cent to 5,702.00. South Korea’s Kospi dipped 1.1 per cent to 2,332.01. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng slipped 0.8 per cent to 27,736.67, but the Shanghai Composite was little changed, inching up 0.1 per cent to 3,371.77.
NORTH KOREA: North Korea has said it had tested a hydrogen bomb. U.S. Defence Secretary Jim Mattis responded by saying that the U.S. will answer any threat from the North with a “massive military response — a response both effective and overwhelming.” President Donald Trump threatened to halt all trade with countries doing business with the North, a veiled warning to China, and faulted South Korea for its “talk of appeasement.”
THE QUOTE: “Korean tensions are elevated again,” said Chang Wei Liang, Singapore Treasury Division at Mizuho Bank. “While US Defence Secretary Mattis warned of a ‘massive military response’ if the U.S. or its allies are threatened, risk-off sentiment this morning is not unduly excessive, largely because markets still do not expect any military escalation in the near-term.”
U.S. JOBS: The Labor Department said U.S. employers added 156,000 jobs in August. That was a bit less than analysts expected, but investors were pleased that the economy kept growing at a steady pace while inflation remains weak. They bet that will keep the Federal Reserve from raising interest rates too quickly.
WALL STREET: The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 4.90 points, or 0.2 per cent, to 2,476.55. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 39.46 points, or 0.2 per cent, to 21,987.56. The blue chip index had its first change in more than two years on Friday, as longtime Dow component DuPont combined with former rival Dow Chemical to form DowDuPont. The Nasdaq composite added 6.67 points, or 0.1 per cent, to 6,435.33. It was the best week this year for the Nasdaq as technology and health care companies surged. The index is at record highs.
ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude gained 4 cents to $47.33 a barrel. It added 6 cents to $47.29 a barrel in New York late Friday. Brent crude, which is used to price international oils, fell 49 cents to $52.26 a barrel in London.
CURRENCIES: The dollar fell to 109.43 yen from 110.04 yen late Friday. The euro slipped to $1.1893 from $1.1907.
AP Markets Writer Marley Jay contributed to this report.