Asian markets waver after yen peaks at 10-month high

Many Asia-Pacific equity markets were lower Friday morning, with China and Hong Kong the exceptions, as risk appetite was tepid due to worries about a massive storm nearing the U.S.

Investors were also concerned about the direction of global monetary policy and North Korea.

On Saturday, North Korea will observe the anniversary of the founding of the nation. On the same day a year ago, North Korea conducted a nuclear test and investors are worried the isolated nation may do another weapons test this year. It said it conducted a successful hydrogen bomb test last weekend.

As a result, investors could opt to close out positions ahead of this weekend, noted Rob Carnell, head of Asia research at ING.

The Nikkei

NIK, -0.38%

  was recently 0.3% lower following overnight gains in bond prices and the yen, which often weigh on insurers and electronics firms. Both sectors were lower Friday morning.

Bonds and the yen were drawn higher yesterday as the European Central Bank put off until at least next month the release of a timetable on phasing out its bond-buying efforts. Speculation has grown that the central bank could maintain its easing due to slow inflation, which is also a concern for U.S. policy makers.

The 10-year Treasury yield hit fresh lows for the year, moving closer to 2%, and the yen notched a 10-month high overnight versus the dollar to ¥108.05. The dollar was recently around ¥108.35.

Stocks in Australia

XJO, -0.40%

  and South Korea

SEU, -0.14%

  were down slightly while Hong Kong

HSI, +0.57%

 , China

SHCOMP, +0.39%

  and Taiwan

Y9999, +0.55%

  saw modest gains.

Oil prices were also little changed after muted moves overnight. Hurricane Irma, a Category 5 storm, was packing sustained winds of 175 mph; it is projected to hit Florida on Sunday. OCBC Bank says “energy prices could edge lower” if that path persists.

Meanwhile, gold ticked modestly higher after climbing to fresh one-year highs on Thursday. It was recently around $1,350 per troy ounce.

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