Global stocks fall as North Korea’s nuclear test raises tensions

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London: Stock markets fell and the yen, gold and sovereign bonds rose on Monday as North Korea’s most powerful nuclear test provoked a knee-jerk shift to safe havens.

Sunday’s test, and reports from Seoul that Pyongyang was making preparations for another missile launch, sparked another warning from Washington and drove South Korea’s stock market KOSPI more than 1 percent lower.

Japan’s Nikkei lost almost 1 percent and Europe’s major exchanges opened more than half a percent down.

The dollar was also down against the basket of currencies used to measure its broader strength, fell 0.6 percent to 109.57 yen, having been as low as 109.22 and off a whole yen from late on Friday.

But some recovery after opening in Europe and a modest 0.2 percent dip in MSCI’s world equity index suggested the events were not seen by investors as a watershed moment in the long-running standoff.

Driven by the Korean losses, MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan slipped 0.75 percent.

The pan-European STOXX 600 index and euro zone blue chips both fell more than 0.5 percent on opening before recovering some poise, while the UK’s FTSE  slipped 0.2 percent.

CENTRAL BANK MEETINGS

Wall Street traders do not return from the Labor Day holiday until Tuesday in a week stuffed with central bank meetings that are expected to dominate market attention.

The European Central Bank issues a policy statement on Thursday with expectations of any major shift towards reining in its supplies of extra funds to the economy having been quashed in the past week.

The euro’s almost 14 percent rally against the dollar this year has stalled on signs that ECB officials were growing more concerned with the gains – and might wait far longer to tighten policy as a result.

The euro gained 0.3 percent in morning trade but is almost 2 cents below the 2-1/2 year high it hit last week.

The dollar took some support on Friday from a strong ISM report on U.S. factories, which produced the highest reading since April 2011.

That was just the latest sign that global production was gaining traction and added to bullishness on industrial metals. Copper climbed more than 1 percent to its highest in three years.

In the oil market, prices were subdued as shutdowns of U.S. production following Harvey were balanced by an expected downturn in crude demand as the tropical storm knocked out refineries along the Gulf of Mexico.

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