Asian markets edge lower as investors shrug off North Korea missile test

A pedestrian watching a TV on a street broadcasting news of North Korea's missile launch in Tokyo, Japan, on May 29.
A pedestrian watching a TV on a street broadcasting news of North Korea's missile launch in Tokyo, Japan, on May 29.PHOTO: EPA

TOKYO (AFP) - Asian stocks broadly slipped on Monday, with few solid trading cues after investors largely shrugged off an early-morning North Korean missile launch.

The short-range projectile flew for several minutes before landing in waters between the Korean peninsula and Japan - the latest in a series of launches that have raised tensions over the North's bid to develop weapons capable of hitting the United States.

Most Asia-Pacific stock markets took the launch in their stride, with Tokyo's benchmark Nikkei 225 index mostly higher before ending the day flat. "The impact on the Tokyo market is limited," Okasan Online Securities' chief strategist Yoshihiro Ito said in a commentary.

South Korea's Kospi index slipped 0.10 per cent and Sydney fell 0.78 per cent, while Hong Kong tacked on 0.24 per cent. Singapore's Straits Times index fell 0.15 per cent or 4.87 points to end the day at 3,214.55.

Financial markets in mainland China and Taiwan were closed Monday for a public holiday.

Paris and Frankfurt opened slightly lower in early European trade, with London and, later on, Wall Street closed for holidays.

The major US indices finished Friday's session essentially flat ahead of a three-day holiday weekend in the United States.

But US stocks nevertheless held onto gains won after a six-day rally - meaning the hair's-breadth rise was all that was necessary to see the Nasdaq and S&P 500 break Thursday's all-time highs.

Fresh economic data Friday showed the US economy was stronger in the first quarter than first reported.

"The US economy is steady, and the equity market is getting support from the view that even if growth slows down, it won't crumble," Shoji Hirakawa, chief global strategist at Tokai Tokyo Research Institute, told Bloomberg News.