Asian stocks slide on missile tests
Asian stocks fell, snapping a four-day advance, after North Korea launched six missiles over the Sea of Japan, threatening regional security. Toyota Motor Corp. and Samsung Electronics Co. led declines among the biggest companies in Japan and South Korea.
"This is going to be a blow to investor sentiment and will weigh on the market until the situation is resolved," said Park Jae Hoon, who helps oversee about $800 million at Tong Yang Investment Trust Management Co. in Seoul.
The Morgan Stanley Capital International Asia-Pacific Index fell 0.6 percent to 127.08 in Tokyo. The measure climbed 6.2 percent in the past four days, its longest winning streak in more than two months. Japan's Nikkei 225 Stock Average slid 0.4 percent, as did South Korea's Kospi Index.
Stock benchmarks also declined in Taiwan, Singapore, Hong Kong, the Philippines and Indonesia. China's Shanghai Composite Index jumped 2.5 percent, the region's biggest advance, after Bank of China Ltd. surged on its trading debut today.
North Korea's missile launches defied demands from the United States, China, Japan, South Korea and Russia to refrain from such tests and will be discussed later today at a meeting of the U.N. Security Council. Japan's government said it will consider economic sanctions against North Korea, a move North Korea has said it would consider a declaration of war.
Toyota, Japan's largest company by market value, fell 1 percent to $51.82. Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc., the world's largest bank by assets and Japan's second-largest company by value, dropped 1.2 percent to $13,935.
Samsung Electronics, the most valuable company in South Korea, declined 0.7 percent to $622. Kookmin Bank, the nation's biggest lender, slid 0.5 percent to $81.73.
North Korea's state-run media said two days ago the country's army is ready to answer any preemptive U.S. military attack against a missile site with a "relentless annihilating strike and a nuclear war."
At least six missiles were fired, including a failed launch of a long-range ballistic missile, White House National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley said in Washington, adding that the tests were "provocative behavior."
The United States, China, Japan and South Korea have told North Korea that testing a long-range missile may harm the six-nation talks, which also include Russia and are aimed at persuading the communist nation to scrap its nuclear arms program.
"Governments including Japan and South Korea are raising concerns over the region's security and it's definitely bad news" for stocks, said Tamisuke Yamashita, who helps oversee $61 billion at Mitsubishi UFJ Asset Management Co. in Tokyo.
North Korea launched a long-range Taepodong 1 missile that flew over Japan before landing in the Pacific Ocean in 1998. It has test-fired short-range missiles since then, including a test of two missiles in March.