The Big Question: The Korean Peninsula remains calm, but for how long?
Major equity markets in the Asia Pacific surged on Monday, as tensions on the Korean Peninsula remained relatively calm over the weekend and hurricane Irma was downgraded after making landfall in Florida.
In Japan, the Nikkei 225 jumped 1.38 percent to 19,541.36 before midday. The surge on Monday came after the Nikkei fell 0.63 percent to a 3-month low on Friday.
In South Korea, the KOSPI index ticked up 0.78 percent to 2,362.04 around midday. The KOSPI also dropped on Friday after fears that South Korean businesses, including automakers, could face problems in China over the South Korean government’s decision to deploy the THAAD missile defense system in the country.
Down under, the ASX 200 added 0.77 percent to 5,716.00.
In Greater China, major indexes also pointed higher on Monday, with the Hong Kong Hang Seng index up 0.94 percent to 27,927.86 and the Shanghai Composite added 0.42 percent to 3,379.32 at midday.
The rise in Asian stocks on Monday followed relatively calmer tensions on the Korean Peninsula over the weekend, after a highly anticipated missile test from North Korea to commemorate the country’s founding on Saturday did not take place.
However, uncertainties are likely to linger, as the United Nations Security Council will vote on Monday over tougher sanctions against North Korea. North Korea on Monday issued fresh warnings, saying the US will pay a price if it passes tougher sanctions on the North.
Also in the US, though hurricane Irma has made landfall in Florida, its force is weaker than the predicted category 5. The economic impact of Irma is still expected to be severe.
Main Market Movers – Mid-day Asian Trading Session
|Indexes||Value at Midday||Daily Change|
|Japan-Nikkei Stock Average 225||19,541.36||1.38%|
|China-Shanghai Composite Index||3,379.32||0.42%|
|Hong Kong-Hang Seng||27,927.86||0.94%|
|South Korea- KOSPI||2,362.04||0.78%|
Digital currencies surged overnight during the Asian trading session on Monday, with both bitcoin and ethereum erasing losses on Sunday.
Bitcoin prices jumped 2.39 percent to $4,327.19 before midday in Asia. That’s a big comeback from Sunday when it dropped to as low as near the $4,000 mark.
The ethereum price saw an even larger rise overnight. The digital currency was trading at around $307.38, up 3.18 percent. Ethereum also fell to as low as $276 on Sunday.
The Japanese yen lost 0.53 percent against the US dollar overnight to 108.40 per dollar.
The Chinese yuan also lost 0.44 percent to 6.5054 per dollar. China’s central bank on Monday reportedly scrapped a requirement for foreign exchange traders to set aside risk reserves, indicating more liberalized yuan trading.
The Australian dollar lost 0.23 percent to 1.4919 per dollar overnight.
WTI Oil added 0.84 percent to $47.81 per barrel.
Brent Crude gained 0.50 percent to $53.99 per barrel.
Gold lost 0.66 percent to $1,337.67 an ounce.
Business News across Asia
In China, authorities are planning a ban on fossil fuel cars, as part of the country’s effort to develop more new-energy cars and clean up the polluted environment. A vice minister of industry and information technology said China is mulling a timetable for phasing out the sales and production of fossil cars.
Take away: China is already on a fast track in terms of new energy cars backed mostly by the government. But this development adds to the overall trend and could affect car companies from Germany, the US, Japan, etc. Carmakers who cannot adapt to these new market demands will lose.
In India, the government is also said to push for electric cars and plan to electrify all new cars by 2030. The official roadmap will be released before the year’s end and carmakers are already planning their own strategy for electric cars.
Take Away: If the Indian government put resources behind electric cars, it will likely offer a lot of opportunities for automakers that have had a difficult time in India.
In South Korea, all eyes are on what Kim Jong-un of North Korea would do if the UN passes new, tougher sanctions that target the North’s oil supply.
Take Away: The UN vote will come on Monday and if the sanctions are passed, the North will likely respond by firing off another missile in protest and likely rattle markets in the region once again.
Featured image from Flickr.