Asia opens mostly flat after latest N Korea missile test

Asia opens mostly flat after latest N Korea missile test
PHOTO: AFP

Markets in Asia opened mostly flat on Monday after the latest ballistic missile test by North Korea and as major markets are closed for public holidays today.

North Korea fired what looked to be a ballistic missile near its coast. The missile reportedly landed in the Sea of Japan after staying in the air for 6 minutes.

This is the ninth missile the hermit state has tested this year, as it faces increasing pressure from the US and historical ally China over its missile testing programme.

Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 index edged higher by 0.02 per cent in early trade while South Korea's Kospi added 0.32 per cent. This is the seventh straight session of gains for the Kospi.

The S&P/ASX 200 was effectively flat, trading lower by 0.01 per cent.

Markets in China are closed for a public holiday today.

Stateside, Wall Street will be closed for Memorial Day, after closing mixed last Friday following the release of the second reading of Q1 GDP numbers. Markets in the UK will also be closed for the spring bank holiday.

With several large markets closed today, trading is likely to be subdued, CMC Markets Chief Market Strategist Michael McCarthy said in a note on Monday morning.

"Investors and traders may hold out for important reads on the world's largest economies this week," McCarthy said, highlighting PMI data from China, retail sales and industrial production in Japan, and a deluge of US data due later in the week.

Japanese electronics company Sharp said last Friday it was estimating a profit of 59 billion yen (S$730 million) for the year ended March. This will be the company's first profit in four years.

Oil prices gained after initially falling following OPEC's decision to extend output cuts last week. Brent crude futures gained 0.23 per cent to trade at US$52.27 a barrel and US crude futures were up 0.22 per cent to trade at US$49.91.

In currency news, the dollar was flat against a basket of six rival currencies after reaching a near six-and-a-half month low last week. The dollar last traded at 97.433.

"(T)he dollar has essentially traded sideways over the past few days, still reflecting a bit of softness from US political uncertainty although on Friday, it benefited from ... weakness (in the British pound)," said National Australia Bank Currency Strategist Rodrigo Catril.

The greenback slipped against the yen to trade at 111.24, compared to levels around 111.5 seen last week. Meanwhile, the Australian dollar softened against the dollar to trade at US$0.7441.

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