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North Korea nerves persist in Asia equities trade

Asia Pacific equities were mixed on Tuesday as a nervous tone persisted following North Korea’s latest nuclear test and as the US ambassador to the UN called for further sanctions on Pyongyang.

Nikki Hayley, the US ambassador to the UN warned on Monday that North Korea was “begging for war” and said the two decades of “half measures” by the UN had failed. She asked the UN to respond to North Korea’s latest nuclear test with the “strongest sanctions” ever imposed on Pyongyang to “resolve this problem through diplomacy”.

Japanese stocks were under pressure thanks to a stronger yen with the Topix index down 0.2 per cent, dragged by a 0.3 per cent fall for both financials and consumer staples.

South Korea’s Kospi index dipped 0.1 per cent after retreating from a 0.5 per cent gain earlier in the session. South Korean stocks fell 1.2 per cent in the previous session in the wake of Pyongyang’s nuclear test on Sunday.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng was up 0.1 per cent, despite a 0.2 per cent fall for financials as information technology stocks rose 1 per cent.

Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 was down 0.4 per cent as the financials sector fell 0.5 per cent.

Gold hovered at a 10-month high at $1,333.39 per ounce after hitting a high of $1,339.81 on Monday. The Japanese yen was 0.2 per cent stronger at ¥109.52 as the country’s finance minister called for additional sanctions on North Korea.

The Australian dollar was 0.4 per cent higher against the dollar at $0.7976 as data showed net exports are expected to contribute more to second quarter GDP growth than estimated. All eyes are on the Australian dollar ahead of the Reserve Bank of Australia’s policy decision later today where it is expected to hold rates steady.

The dollar index, a measure of the greenback against a basket of peers was 0.1 per cent lower at 92.585.