Asia equity markets had a muted beginning to the week, with holidays set to slow activity world-wide, as investors shrugged off North Korea’s latest missile launch.
North Korea fired an unidentified projectile within about 320 kilometers of Japan’s coastline, marking the third week in a row that it has launched a missile.
“The market is quite desensitized” at this point, said Jingyi Pan, a market strategist at IG Group.
Monday’s launch occurred as markets in China and Taiwan are closed for holidays. Markets in the U.K. and U.S. will also be closed for holidays.
There was no sign of investors seeking safety; gold GCM7, -0.12% and currencies were little changed. Some previous North Korean missile launches caused some yen selling, but market participants have become less concerned by North Korea’s actions over time.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index HSI, +0.24% ended 0.2% higher, Japan’s Nikkei Stock NIK, -0.02% closed marginally lower. Steel stocks like Nippon 5401, -3.30% and JFE 5411, -2.76% fell 3.3% and 2.8%, respectively, due to falling prices for their products.
Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 XJO, -0.78% dropped 0.8%, with bank stocks continued to fall Monday.
South Korea’s Kospi index SEU, -0.10% dropped 0.1%.
The British pound was of particular interest after it logged its biggest decline against the U.S. dollar in four months on Friday after an opinion poll showed a decline in support for the ruling Conservatives and a resurgence for the Labour Party. Other polls released over the weekend showed similar results, highlighting the prospect of Prime Minister Theresa May having a weaker hand for Brexit-related negotiations following next month’s vote. The pound GBPUSD, +0.3359% rose to $1.2839 on Monday, up from $1.2803 late Friday in New York.
Investors are taking note of manufacturing data later this week via purchasing-managers reports and Friday’s U.S. jobs report. The latter is likely to be of “elevated in importance” with money managers using it as a gauge to guide their expectations, said Pan.