Stocks in Asia Shrug off N. Korea Missile Launch

Asian markets closed mostly higher on Wednesday as investors mostly shrugged off North Korea's latest missile launch.

The Nikkei 225 index recovered 110.96 points, or 0.5%, to 22,597.20

The Hang Seng Index lost 57.02 points, or 0.2%, to 29,623.83

North Korea on Wednesday local time launched a likely intercontinental ballistic missile that landed in the Sea of Japan, according to the Pentagon. The launch, the North's first since Sept. 15, came after the U.S. classified North Korea as a country that supported terrorism on Nov. 20.

Following the launch, President Donald Trump said the U.S. would "take care of" the situation. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Trump have also agreed to increase their cooperation on the North.

North Korea later boasted through local media that its new ICBM was capable of reaching the U.S., but the rogue nation claimed its weapons program would not threaten countries that did not infringe on the North's sovereignty.

Major exporters in Japan were in focus as the dollar held onto overnight gains against the yen. Automakers traded mixed, but tech names closed mostly higher. Trading houses and financials also notched gains.

Japanese retail sales in October declined 0.2% compared to one year ago, although the figure remained in line with what was forecast. That was the first fall in yearly retail sales in a year

The U.S. dollar was steady against the Japanese currency, with the greenback fetching 111.44, compared to Tuesday's close of 111.45.

Of particulate note, Hong Kong’s one-month interbank offered rate, often referred to as Hibor, rose above the 1% level on Wednesday.

In South Korea, stocks were virtually unchanged as several blue-chip tech names declined. Heavyweight Samsung Electronics closed down 1.3% while companies sensitive to developments related to the THAAD anti-missile system closed lower: Lotte Shopping fell 2.3% and LG Household and Healthcare lost 0.4% by the end of the day.

Shares of cosmetics names Amorepacific and Cosmax closed up 1.5% and 4.9% respectively, following news that China would once again let travel agencies resume selling tour packages to South Korea.

Australian issues were higher, with heavily-weighted financial stocks climbing 0.6%. Sector-wise, utilities and retail names led gains on the index.


In Shanghai, the CSI 300 flopped 2.07 points, or 0.1%, to 4,053.75, as property shares notched gains, with Poly Real Estate rising 10%

Alibaba Group is selling a multi-tranche dollar bond which will price during U.S. hours. The bond has five tranches — 5.5-year, 10-year, 20-year, 30-year and 40-year — and price guidance was indicated at approximately 100, 130, 140, 160 and 180 basis points above U.S. Treasurys, respectively.

In other markets

In Korea, the Kospi index eased 1.29 points, or 0.1%, lower to 2,512.90

In Taiwan, the Taiex Index regained 6.48 points, or 0.1%, to 10,713.55

In Singapore, the Straits Times Index dropped 3.36 points, or 0.1%, to 3,438.99

In New Zealand, the NZX 50 nicked 0.47 points higher to 8,141.96

In Australia, the ASX 200 recouped 26.86 points, or 0.5%, to 6,011.12