Traders are bracing for a risk-off theme to sweep through equities and bonds, after the US navy moved within striking distance of North Korea on Monday, following a failed ballistic missile launch on Sunday.
While Australia’s stockmarket was closed on Easter Monday, along with Hong Kong, New Zealand and a large portion of Europe, shares around the Asian region were mixed, despite positive data showing China’s economy accelerated for the second straight month.
China’s gross domestic product increased 6.9 per cent in the first quarter from a year earlier, topping economists’ expectations for growth of 6.8 per cent. Retail sales and industrial output increased in March.
Japan’s Topix index was little changed, trimming earlier declines, while the Shanghai Composite Index was down 0.7 per cent on Monday afternoon, paring an earlier loss of 1.1 per cent.
The prevailing geopolitical concern has seen safe-haven plays such as gold and the Japanese yen move significantly higher, while US Treasuries extended last week’s flight to quality.
“With all the military adventurism in play, those insidious wartime market correlations take force as the risk-off theme grips markets,” said
Stephen Innes, senior trader at OANDA.“To what extent the markets need to price in geopolitical risk more actively into their psyche will likely drive nearer term sentiment. There’s no question the world has become a more sensitive and scarier place in the last fortnight.”