SEOUL, South Korea — Asian stock markets were lower on Wednesday as investors found ample reasons to stay away from risky assets amid still-high tensions on the Korean Peninsula and the powerful hurricane approaching the United States.
KEEPING SCORE: Japan’s Nikkei 225 fell 0.3 percent to 19,325.87 and South Korea’s Kospi was down 0.3 percent to 2,319.60. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index sank 0.9 percent to 27,485.12 and Shanghai Composite Index slipped 0.3 percent to 3,373.05. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 fell 0.6 percent to 5,675.10. Stocks in Taiwan and Southeast Asia were all lower.
NORTH KOREA: Investors are yet to see signs that the geopolitical tensions between the United States and North Korea, which surged after the North’s sixth nuclear test on Sunday, would ease any time soon. On Tuesday, President Donald Trump said in his tweet that he has given the go-ahead for Japan and South Korea to buy a “substantially increased amount” of sophisticated military equipment from the United States. South Korea is seeking more military might and considering bringing back the U.S. nuclear weapons.
ANALYST’S TAKE: President Trump’s tweets, “were seen as provocations on the U.S. end, feeding jitters into the market.” Jingyi Pan, a market strategist at IG in Singapore, said in daily commentary. “Adding to the unnerving set of leads had also been the approach of hurricane Irma for a country that has barely recovered from hurricane Harvey’s devastation.”
WALL STREET: The U.S. stock markets had its worst day in almost three weeks on Tuesday. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index slid 18.70 points, or 0.8 percent, to 2,457.85. The Dow Jones industrial average slumped 234.25 points, or 1.1 percent, to 21,753.31. The average had been down more than 277 points. The Nasdaq composite lost 59.76 points, or 0.9 percent, to 6,375.57. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks gave up 13.92 points, or 1 percent, to 1,399.66.
OIL: Benchmark U.S. crude lost 10 cents to $48.56 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract gained $1.37, or 2.9 percent, to settle at $48.66 a barrel on Tuesday. Brent crude, used to price international oils, fell 19 cents to $53.19 per barrel in London.
CURRENCIES: The dollar declined to 108.62 yen from 108.79 yen. The euro rose to $1.1917 from $1.1912.