Asian shares mostly lower as North Korean tensions simmer

The U.S. dollar rose mildly against most major currencies on Wednesday but stayed at the lowest level in five months against yen amid rising geopolitical risk.

TOKYO (AP) - Stocks were mixed Tuesday and the price of gold rose as investors monitored geopolitical risks - from North Korea's rumblings over the U.S.to major powers' plan to put pressure on Russian Federation over the Syrian war.

ASIA'S DAY: Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 stock index tumbled 1 percent to 18,552.61 after the dollar fell under 110 yen for the first time in five months, pressuring the country's exporters.

The kiwi dollar fell to 76.04 yen as at 5pm in Wellington, and earlier touched 75.86 yen, the lowest since November 14, from 76.91 yen late yesterday.

Indices: Stoxx50 +0.4% at 3,482, FTSE +0.4% at 7,396, DAX +0.4% at 12,183, CAC-40 +0.5% at 5,126, IBEX-35 +0.2% at 10,440, FTSE MIB +0.3% at 20,172, SMI +0.4% at 8,672, S&P 500 Futures +0.1%.

North Korea warned on Tuesday of a nuclear attack on the United States at any sign of aggression, as a U.S.

Only the yen, a favored haven in times of stress, offered some resistance against the greenback at 111.44 yen, after touching 110.11 on Friday, its lowest since March 27.

Japan's navy also plans joint drills with the USA force, sources told Reuters.

Most Asian stock markets were little changed Wednesday-like their counterparts in the US and Europe this week-with benchmark indexes within 0.2% of Tuesday's closing levels.

Futures on Hong Kong's Hang Seng and the Hang Seng China Enterprises Index were each down 0.3 percent in most recent trading. Benchmark 10-year Treasury yields were 3 basis points lower at 2.268 percent after hitting 2.259 percent, which was the lowest since November 17.

Oil prices ended lower after reversing earlier gains due to a report on US crude stockpiles. However, expect that growing support for leftist candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon keeps alive French political concerns and tempers the "single" unit's gains.

Shanghai nudged 0.4 percent lower.

In the nonferrous metal sector, Mitsui Mining and Smelting shed 9 yen, or 2.7 percent, to 326 yen, with Sumitomo Metal Mining shrinking 65.50 yen, or 4.3 percent, to 1,464.00 yen.

Global benchmark Brent edged up 30 cents to $56.53 a barrel, while US crude added 25 cents to $53.66. As a result, 10-year US Treasury yields declined which resulted in broad pressure on the greenback.

Oil prices held firm at $52.45 per barrel, on risks that the Syria conflict may spread more widely within the oil-rich Middle East region. The contract added 32 cents to close at $53.40 a barrel on Thursday, its sixth gain in a row. After gold climbed 1.6% overnight, it gained a further 0.4% in Asia to near $1,280 a troy ounce.

Data overnight showed China consumer inflation again remained "underwhelming" last month, as m/m CPI (-0.3% vs. -0.2%) fell for the second consecutive month in March and y/y was near its two-year lows below +1%. It added 54 cents to $52.24 a barrel late Friday in NY. The euro edged down to $1.0642 from $1.0665.

  • Zachary Reyes