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Stocks in Asia close mostly higher despite protectionism concerns, North Korean missile launch; oil jumps 2%

  • Asian markets lower in early Monday trade
  • North Korea tests a new missile over the weekend, adding to tensions in Korean peninsula
  • G7 leaders highlight risk of Trump's trade policies to global growth

Asian markets closed mostly in the money on Monday despite concerns over trade protectionism during the G7 meeting in Italy and North Korea's latest missile launch at the weekend.

A man walks past a stock quotation board in front of a securities company in Tokyo on May 12, 2017.
Kazuhiro Nogi | AFP | Getty Images
A man walks past a stock quotation board in front of a securities company in Tokyo on May 12, 2017.

G7 finance ministers and central bankers highlighted the risks U.S. trade policies could pose to global growth during their meeting in Italy. This followed an earlier meeting in March this year, when G20 leaders failed to endorse free trade in their joint communique.

Concerns over North Korea's nuclear program also grew after the hermit state launched a new missile over the weekend. The missile landed in the sea close to Russia, Reuters reported.

Meanwhile, the extent of a global cyberattack as people returned to work was also largely shrugged off by markets. Called "WannaCry," the malware infected 200,000 devices with a ransomware program.

Symbol
Name
Price
 
Change
%Change
NIKKEI
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HSI
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ASX 200
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SHANGHAI
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KOSPI
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CNBC 100
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Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 index was mostly steady, edging down 0.07 percent or 14.05 percent to close at 19,869.85.

The Kospi shrugged off North Korea's latest missile launch and reversed earlier losses to close 0.2 percent higher at 2,290.65. Australia's S&P/AX 200 was effectively flat, closing 0.03 percent higher at 5,838.4.

Markets in greater China were also in the green. The Hang Seng Index gained 0.75 percent. The Shanghai Composite added 0.22 percent or 6.7179 points to close at 3,090.2311 and the Shenzhen Composite finished 0.375 percent or 6.8249 points higher at 1,827.0209.

BHP Billiton is expected to unveil plans to unlock greater value from its shale assets after Elliott Management urged the company to restructure, Reuters said. The company also dropped the "Billiton" in its name as part of a rebranding exercise. BHP shares closed 0.29 percent higher at A$23.82 a stock.

Also in Australia, Fairfax Media was offered A$2.76 billion ($2.04 billion) by TPG Capital Management for the entire company. An earlier bid by TPG had only targeted Fairfax's main newspapers and property listings arm. Fairfax shares surged on the news and closed the session 6.54 percent higher.

Japanese conglomerate Toshiba reported a 950 billion yen net loss for the last financial year. The results were not audited. Toshiba shares were up 3.44 percent at the end of the session.

Over in Singapore, shares of Genting Singapore soared 6.48 percent after the company reported that Q1 profits were 16.7 times higher on year. Nomura analysts Tushar Mohata and Alpa Aggarwal reiterated their "Buy" call on the stock in a note, adding that they expected Genting shares to re-rate before companies begin tendering bids to open integrated resorts in Japan.

Oil prices rocketed upwards after energy ministers from Saudi Arabia and Russia said they were in agreement that oil production cuts had to be extended until March 2018. Brent crude futures gained 1.91 percent to trade at $51.81 a barrel and U.S. crude gained 2.03 percent to trade at $48.81.

In currency news, the dollar weakened slightly against a basket of rival currencies, trading at 99.116 following last Friday's slide. Weakness in the dollar was a result of weaker-than-expected economic data out of the U.S. last week. The dollar, however, was stronger against the yen, with the greenback fetching 113.60. Dollar/yen had breached the 114 level last week.

In economic news, China's industrial production figures and fixed-asset investment for the month of April reflected that growth momentum had slowed despite a strong Q1.

India will also report trade numbers for April at 8:30 pm.

Stateside, equities closed mixed last Friday after economic data proved to be a mixed bag, and on the back of the drop in retails stocks.