Stocks from Tokyo to Taiwan slipped as the U.S. bombing of Islamic State positions in Afghanistan added to geopolitical tensions. Trading was thin with many markets throughout the globe closed Friday for holidays.
Japan’s Topix fell, poised to complete the longest string of weekly declines in 15 months, after the U.S. dropped the largest non-nuclear bomb it’s ever used in combat in Afghanistan Thursday. The S&P 500 Index declined in New York trading, while other financial assets were more muted. The dollar rose against the yen and Korean won. Treasuries ended flat on Thursday, with the benchmark yield at the lowest level of the year.
“It’s just creating more uncertainty with people,” Frank Ingarra, head trader at NorthCoast Asset Management LLC, which oversees about $1.7 billion, said by phone. “It’s the only big news that’s come out. Does it mean we’re going to be more militarily engaged in the world?”
Traders are also trying to get a handle on Trump’s fiscal and economic plans following his remarks from Wednesday, in which he called the dollar too strong, signaled a softening on China’s currency practices and left open the possibility of reappointing Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen.
Here’s what investors are watching:
- Equity markets in China, Japan, Taiwan, Korea, Malaysia and Vietnam are open on Friday. Most European markets will be closed, as will U.S. markets.
- Traders will be keeping tabs on the Korean peninsula over the weekend. The “Day of the Sun” holiday on April 15 commemorates the birth of Kim Il Sung, North Korea’s long dead founder and current leader Kim Jong Un’s grandfather. The event raises the chance of provocative action from the nuclear-armed state.
- China’s first-quarter gross domestic product is due Monday. The world’s second-largest economy probably expanded 6.8 percent from a year earlier, a Bloomberg survey of economists showed, the same pace as the prior three months.
Here are the main moves in markets:
- Japan’s Topix fell 0.5 percent at 1:04 p.m. in Tokyo, heading for the lowest closing level since November. The index is down 1.9 percent for the past five days, heading for a fifth straight weekly decline for the longest losing streak since December 2015.
- Toshiba Corp. was volatile in Friday trading, dropping as much as 8.1 percent and almost erasing those declines on a report that Apple Inc. is considering an investment of several billion dollars in the company’s semiconductor unit. The stock is down 4.4 percent in afternoon trading.
- South Korea’s Kospi dropped 0.5 percent, after rallying 0.9 percent on Thursday. The gauge is down 0.7 percent for the week.
- The Shanghai Composite Index lost 0.4 percent, heading for a weekly loss. Taiwan’s Taiex retreated 0.9 percent. Malaysia’s benchmark index fell 0.3 percent while Vietnam’s tumbled 1.4 percent.
- The S&P 500 lost 0.7 percent on Thursday, falling for a third straight day. The Stoxx Europe 600 Index lost 0.4 percent.
- The yen fell less than 0.1 percent to 109.17 per dollar. The currency is heading for its biggest weekly gain in a month, up 1.7 percent.
- South Korea’s won dropped 0.8 percent, after rebounding in the previous two sessions. The Taiwanese dollar slipped 0.3 percent, after three days of gains.
The yield on the 10-year Treasury was essentially flat at 2.24 percent on Thursday, following three days of declines.
- West Texas Intermediate rose 0.1 percent to $53.18 a barrel on Thursday, giving it a weekly gain of 1.8 percent.
- Gold fell 0.1 percent to $1,286.20 an ounce in Friday trading. It has advanced 2.5 percent for the week, trading near the highest level since November.