Asian Shares Higher, Korean Kospi Falls After Missile Launch

BANGKOK (AP) -
A currency trader watches monitors at the foreign exchange dealing room of the KEB Hana Bank headquarters in Seoul, South Korea, Thursday. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

Asian shares rallied Thursday after the S&P 500 and Nasdaq closed at record highs, though South Korea’s Kospi declined after North Korea launched two short-range missiles into the sea.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 index added 0.2% to 21,756.55 while the Kospi lost 0.4% to 2,074.48. In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng gained 0.3% to 28,610.60. The Shanghai Composite index climbed 0.2%, to 2,929.86. Australian’s S&P ASX 200 advanced 0.6% to 6,818.00. India’s Sensex edged 0.1% higher to 37,881.80.

Shares rose in Taiwan and Southeast Asia.

The missiles fired by North Korea early Thursday were the first weapons launches in more than two months and an apparent tactic to pressure Washington as North Korean and U.S. officials struggle to restart nuclear negotiations.

The South’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said the missiles were fired from near the eastern coastal town of Wonsan and landed in the waters off the country’s east coast.

Regionwide, sentiment got a boost from news that the U.S. and China plan to resume trade talks, this time in the commercial hub of Shanghai, beginning on Tuesday.

The White House said the talks will cover a range of issues, including intellectual property, forced technology transfers, non-tariff barriers, agriculture, the U.S.-China trade deficit and enforcement.

The tariff war between Washington and Beijing has disrupted trade and cast a pall over the economic outlook for Asia and beyond. Talks collapsed in early May, with President Donald Trump ordering a further increase in punitive import duties. Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed to work to resume negotiations in late June.

Otherwise, there was little in the way of new developments to drive trading, with many investors awaiting policy announcements by the European Central Bank later in the day and from the Federal Reserve and Bank of Japan later in the month.

“The main issue facing policy makers is that now some of their actions did not bear the expected fruit and economies lie near recession despite exhausting their monetary policy toolkit,” Alfonso Esparza of Oanda said in a commentary.

On Wall Street, stocks steadily gained ground Wednesday and closed broadly higher on Wall Street as investors rewarded solid earnings results from several large companies.

Industrial stocks moved broadly higher after UPS beat Wall Street’s financial forecasts. The solid results from the delivery service counteracted steep drops from Boeing and Caterpillar, which both reported weak results.

The Russell 2000, which focuses on smaller stocks, outshone every other index, gaining 1.6% to 1,580.42.

The Nasdaq rose 0.8% to 8,321.50, while the S&P 500 index rose 0.5% to 3,019.56, putting it on track for a weekly gain. Both indexes logged fresh record highs.

But Boeing and Caterpillar weighed down The Dow Jones Industrial Average, which fell 0.3% to 27,269.97.