Asian Stocks Mostly Higher, Some Markets Closed on May Day

TOKYO (AP) -
Men walk past an electronic stock indicator of a securities firm in Tokyo, Monday. (AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi)

Asian shares were mostly higher Monday despite worries over regional tensions after a North Korea missile launch failed over the weekend.

Many markets in Asia and Europe were closed for May Day. Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 gained 0.6 percent to 19,310.52. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 was up 0.4 percent to 5,949.20.

U.S. stocks closed modestly lower Friday. Standard & Poor’s 500 index slipped 0.2 percent to 2,384.20. The Dow Jones industrial average also fell 0.2 percent, to 20,940.51. The Nasdaq composite was steady at 6,047.61.

The North’s failed attempt to launch a mid-range ballistic missile on Saturday added to regional uncertainty. President Donald Trump has warned that the U.S. “can’t allow” North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un to develop better missiles.

“The market mood remains relatively cautious ahead of a big news week that will include the French election and U.S. jobs data,” Ric Spooner, chief market analyst at CMC Markets, said in a commentary.

U.S. jobs data will be released later this week. The U.S. Labor Department said last week that the U.S. economy turned in its weakest performance in three years in the January-March quarter, reflecting a slowdown in consumer spending. Growth, as measured by gross domestic product, amounted to 0.7 percent in the first quarter, less than what economists were expecting.

A runoff election, set for Sunday, for the French presidency, between centrist Emmanuel Macron and far-right National Front leader Marine Le Pen. There are worries about growing nationalism.

Benchmark U.S. crude fell 6 cents to $49.27 a barrel. It rose 36 cents, or 0.7 percent, to settle late Friday at $49.33 per barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, fell 13 cents to $51.92 a barrel in London.

The euro edged down to $1.0889 from $1.0924 late Friday in Asia. The dollar strengthened to 111.69 yen from 111.44 yen.