BEIJING — Most Asian stock markets fell for a second day Tuesday as South Korea carried out military exercises amid mounting official criticism of North Korea’s weekend nuclear test explosion.
KEEPING SCORE: Tokyo’s Nikkei fell 0.5 per cent to 19,417.31 points and Sydney’s S&P-ASX 200 lost 0.3 per cent to 5,684.90. The Shanghai Composite Index was off less than 0.1 per cent at 3,378.21 and Seoul’s Kospi shed 0.2 per cent to 2,325.60. Benchmarks in New Zealand, Manila and Jakarta also declined. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng gained 0.2 per cent to 27,806.96 while Taiwan and Singapore also rose.
NORTH KOREA: South Korean warships conducted live-fire exercises at sea following U.S. warnings of a “massive military response” after North Korea’s nuclear test. The U.N. Security Council held an emergency meeting and American Ambassador Nikki Haley said North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is “begging for war.”
ANALYST’S TAKE: “The rhetoric on North Korea has stepped up a gear, or maybe two,” said Rob Carnell of ING in a report. “Markets are not as panicky as you might expect against this background, though the direction is as one would expect.” Carnell noted news reports that Japan plans to evacuate its citizens from South Korea if U.S. military action appeared likely. “So packed planes from Seoul heading to Tokyo might be our first clue that a U.S. strike is coming,” he said.
ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude gained 12 cents to $47.41 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose 6 cents on Monday to close at $47.29. Brent crude, used to price international oils, lost 22 cents to $52.12 in London. It fell 41 cents the previous session to $52.34.
CURRENCY: The dollar declined to 109.33 yen from Monday’s 109.72 yen. The euro advanced to $1.1905 from $1.1897.