Asian shares, won move south on worries over North Korea

Fri Apr 14, 2017 6:52am EDT
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By Hideyuki Sano

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japanese and South Korean shares fell while the won currency came under pressure on Friday, as rising tensions in the Korean peninsula dented confidence in the world's economy.

The dollar was on the back foot against many other currencies after comments from President Donald Trump earlier this week that the U.S. currency was "getting too strong" and that he would like to see interest rates stay low.

Japan's Nikkei .N225 dropped 0.5 percent to a four-month low while South Korea's Kospi lost 0.6 percent .KS11. Shanghai shares .SSEC were down 0.9 percent.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS was down 0.4 percent, though many markets in the region, including Australia, Singapore and Hong Kong, were closed for Good Friday.

European markets are also shut for the holiday.

"There's been nothing to cheer about over the last 24 hours. Geopolitical tensions seem to be rising all over the place," said Masahiro Ayukai, senior investment strategist at Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan Stanley Securities.

Investors were spooked by worries North Korea may conduct a nuclear test or conduct other actions that could provoke neighbouring countries as early as this weekend.

News that the United States on Thursday dropped "the mother of all bombs", the largest non-nuclear device it has ever unleashed in combat, in Afghanistan soured investor moods further.   Continued...

A currency dealer works in front of electronic boards showing the Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) (L) and the exchange rate between the South Korean won and the U.S. dollar at a bank in Seoul, South Korea, March 16, 2017. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon