Asian shares, dollar rally as North Korea blinks

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TOKYO (Reuters) – Asian shares rose and the dollar rallied on Tuesday after North Korea’s leader signaled that he would delay plans to fire a missile near Guam, easing tensions and prompting investors to move back into beaten-down riskier assets.

Futures suggested the cheer was carrying over into European trading, with the Eurostoxx 50 STXEc1 up 0.2 percent, DAX futures FDXc1 up 0.3 percent and FTSE futures FFIc1 up 0.1 percent.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS was 0.3 percent higher in afternoon trade, with Australia up 0.4 percent. South Korea’s markets were closed for a holiday.

Helped as well by a weaker yen, Japan’s Nikkei stock index .N225 finished up 1.1 percent, a day after skidding 1 percent to a 3-1/2-month low.

“Worries about a conflict between the United States and North Korea are not completely gone, but the market seems to be settled now,” said Masashi Oda, general manager at the strategic investment department at Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Asset Management.

On Wall Street on Monday, U.S. stocks recovered from last week’s selloff, when fears of such a conflict helped wipe out nearly $1 trillion from global equity markets. The S&P 500 .SPX posted its biggest one-day percentage gain since April. [.N]

S&P 500 e-mini futures ESc1 were up 0.2 percent in Asian trade.

North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un received a report from his army on its plans to fire missiles towards Guam and said he would watch the actions of the United States for a while longer before making a decision, the North’s official news agency said on Tuesday.

U.S. President Donald Trump did not have any fresh words for Pyongyang, but Defense Secretary Jim Mattis warned on Monday that the U.S. military would be prepared to intercept a missile fired by North Korea if it was headed to Guam.

“We have North Korea saying they will wait, and Trump not saying anything at all, compared to his past promise of ‘fire and fury,'” said Mitsuo Imaizumi, chief FX strategist at Daiwa Securities.

“That added up to good news for the dollar, bad news for the yen,” he said.

The yen tends to gain in times of crisis on assumptions that Japanese investors will repatriate assets.

The dollar was up 0.7 percent at 110.38 yen JPY=, pulling further away from last Friday’s low of 108.72 yen, while the euro gained 0.5 percent to 129.76 yen JPYEUR=.

The euro was 0.2 percent lower on the day against the dollar at $1.1757 EUR=, while the dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of six major rivals, added 0.3 percent to 93.662 .DXY.

Against the Swiss franc CHF= the dollar rose 0.3 percent, after jumping more than 1 percent on Monday.

Higher U.S. yields also gave the dollar a lift. The yield on the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury note US10YT=RR rose to 2.246 percent from its U.S. close of 2.218 percent on Monday.

The dollar rose as traders unwound their bearish bets made last week after Friday’s disappointing U.S. inflation data dampened expectations that the Federal Reserve would raise interest rates again this year.

But New York Fed President William Dudley rekindled rate-hike hopes on Monday, saying that it was not unreasonable to think the central bank would begin trimming its $4.2 trillion balance sheet in September and raise rates again this year, provided economic data holds up.

Market pricing for the odds of a December hike has moved back to roughly 50-50.

Crude oil futures steadied after tumbling more than 2.5 percent on Monday in volatile trade. [O/R]

U.S. crude futures CLc1 rose 3 cents to $47.62 a barrel. Brent crude LCOc1 added 6 cents to $50.79.

Spot gold XAU= prices plunged 0.7 percent to $1,273.22 an ounce, extending their fall from Monday when they shed half a percent. [GOL/]

Additional reporting by Ayai Tomisawa in Tokyo; Editing by Kim Coghill and Jacqueline Wong

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