Economy

Asian stocks slip, yen and gold rise as global risks weigh

Asian stocks slip, yen and gold rise as global risks weigh

Stocks are opening modestly higher on Wall Street, Monday, April 10, 2017, led by gains in energy and industrial companies. Shares were mostly lower Tuesday in Asia amid growing wariness over tensions with North Kor.

Investors ducked for cover on Wednesday as a drumbeat of alarming geopolitical news sent the safe-haven yen and gold to a five-month high and yields on top-rated sovereign bonds to their lowest for the year so far.

France's CAC 40 lost 0.5 percent in early trading to 5,108.27, while Germany's DAX inched down 0.1 percent to 12,211.15. Wall Street looked set for a slow start, with S&P 500 and Dow futures flat.

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

Chinese President Xi Jinping urged Trump to peacefully resolve mounting tensions as a US naval strike group headed towards the region, a show of force that prompted the North to declare it was "ready to react to any mode of war desired by the U.S".

Investors also stayed away from riskier assets such as stocks, remaining watchful of the situation surrounding the civil war in Syria as well as North Korea's nuclear and missile development, brokers said. The G-7 powers, meanwhile, want to put more pressure on Russian Federation to stop backing the Syrian government, which they blame for a deadly chemical attack last week. Spot gold traded higher by 0.29 percent at United States dollars 1,277.76 an ounce at 9:33 HK/SIN time. That pushed up shares in major mining companies: Fresnillo was up 2.4 percent and Randgold Resources 2.3 percent higher in London.

On the energy front, oil prices were marginally higher after Saudi Arabia informed OPEC officials that it intends to continue output cuts for six more months, according to reports.

Tokyo stocks were down across the board, with Toshiba declining 1,02 percent after it reported an unaudited loss of $4,8-billion (R66,22bn) in long-overdue financial results for the nine months to December 2016.

In late-morning trades, the benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is losing 219.03 points or 1.17 percent to 18,528.84, off a low of 18,460.59 earlier.

The U.S. dollar turned lower along with Treasury yields and stocks on Wednesday after U.S. President Donald Trump said the dollar is getting too strong and that he would prefer the Federal Reserve keep interest rates low. Shares in Southeast Asia were mixed.

Economic data also offered little support with major USA indexes closing lower in choppy trade after a key jobs report on Friday showed the economy added 98,000 jobs in March, the fewest since last May and well below economists' expectation of 180,000.

In commodities, the May crude contract climbed for a sixth day in a row, up 32 cents at US$53.40 per barrel, while the May natural gas contract fell nine cents at US$3.15 per mmBTU.

Oil prices CLc1 held firm at $52.50 per barrel, on risks that the Syria conflict may spread more widely within the oil-rich Middle East region.