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Asia Stocks Slip as Poland Missile Attack Unnerves Markets

The mystery missile strike on a Polish village near the Ukraine border panicked traders though US President Joe Biden later claimed it hadn’t come from Russia


A man looks at his phone as people walk past a screen with the Hang Seng stock index outside Hong Kong Exchanges. Photo: Reuters.

 

Asian markets were in retreat on Wednesday after a missile attack on NATO member Poland ratcheted up global tensions.

The US dollar soared with investors unnerved by the deadly strike near the Polish border with Ukraine – though Japan shares reversed course later in the session after US President Joe Biden said the explosion may not have been caused by a missile fired from Russia.

Fears of an escalation in the Ukraine crisis faded after Biden’s revelation and the Nikkei share average inched up 0.14% to close at 28,028.30, while the broader Topix edged down 0.05% to 1,963.29.

 

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“Investors were relieved by the remarks of Biden,” said Takamasa Ikeda, senior portfolio manager at GCI Asset Management. “What they were most afraid of was NATO’s counterattack.”

Asian stocks dropped after Polish authorities said the explosion was caused by a Russian-made missile. Russia denied it was responsible.

But the Nikkei turned positive after Biden said that the missile that killed two people in Poland was probably not fired from Russia, following an emergency meeting of NATO leaders called to discuss the strike.

Gains in the Nikkei were limited, though, amid continuing concerns about slowing economy in the United States and Europe, as softer-than-expected US inflation data raised concerns about slowing economy.

US producer prices increased less than expected in October, signalling that inflation was starting to subside.

The potential for a further ratcheting up of geopolitical tensions saw MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan lose 0.6%.

Hong Kong stocks closed in the red after soaring more than 10% over the previous three trading days, with investors spooked about the deadly missile strike in Poland.

The Hang Seng Index fell 0.5%, or 86 points, to 18,256. On the mainland, the Shanghai Composite Index shed 0.5 percent, or 14 points, to 3,119, while the Shenzhen Composite Index lost 0.8 percent, or 16 points, at 2,038.

 

US Dollar Advances on Yen

Elsewhere across the region, Australian shares fell 0.5% while Indian stocks inched up with Mumbai’s signature Nifty 50 index rising 0.03%, or 6.25 points, to close at 18,409.65.

Globally, the dollar rose against major peers, led by a 0.3% advance versus the yen. Sterling lost 0.23% while the risk-sensitive Aussie dollar weakened 0.22%. The euro was flat.

The yield on benchmark 10-year Treasury notes slipped to 3.7622% in Tokyo, compared with 3.799% at the close of US trading on Tuesday. It earlier fell as low as 3.757%, matching the previous session’s intraday trough, which was the lowest level since October 6.

US crude ticked up 0.18% to $87.08 a barrel, bolstered by news that oil supply to Hungary via the Druzhba oil pipeline has been temporarily suspended due to a fall in pressure.

Gold was slightly lower, with spot gold trading at $1,778.08 per ounce.

 

Key figures

Tokyo – Nikkei 225 > UP 0.14% at 28,028.30 (close)

Hong Kong – Hang Seng Index < DOWN 0.47% at 18,256.48 (close)

Shanghai – Composite < DOWN 0.45% at 3,119.98 (close)

London – FTSE 100 > UP 0.22% at 7,385.69 (0935 GMT)

New York – Dow > UP 0.17% at 33,592.92 (Tuesday close)

 

  • Reuters with additional editing by Sean O’Meara

 

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Sean O'Meara

Sean O'Meara is an Editor at Asia Financial. He has been a newspaper man for more than 30 years, working at local, regional and national titles in the UK as a writer, sub-editor, page designer and print editor. A football, cricket and rugby fan, he has a particular interest in sports finance.

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