Shares in Asia were mixed on Monday after U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, on a visit to South Korea, warned that U.S. patience with Pyongyang has run out. Many global markets were closed for Easter holidays.
KEEPING SCORE: Markets were closed in France, Germany and Britain. U.S. shares were set to drift lower, with Dow futures slipping nearly 0.1 percent at 20,401. S&P 500 futures were also down 0.1 percent at 2,325.60.
NORTH KOREA: The region remains jittery over North Korea’s nuclear weapons program and a failed missile launch over the weekend. During a visit to a military base near the Demilitarized Zone separating the Koreas on Monday, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence warned that “the era of strategic impatience is over.” He said the U.S. and its allies would deal with the situation “through peaceable means or ultimately by whatever means are necessary.”
UPBEAT CHINA: China’s economy expanded at a faster-than-expected 6.9 percent in January-March, up from 6.8 percent in the previous quarter. China’s economy has been gaining momentum after last year’s economic growth was the slowest in nearly three decades. The upbeat data led shares in Shanghai and Shenzhen to fall in anticipation the government will be tightening credit to avoid overheating in the property market.
ANALYST’S TAKE: “The upshot is that China’s economy continued to experience strong growth in the last quarter and the upbeat data for March suggests that some of this strength will likely extend into Q2,” Julian Evans-Pritchard of Capital Economics wrote in a commentary. “Nonetheless, with the acceleration in credit growth that helped drive the recent recovery now being reversed, we still expect the economy to begin slowing before long.”
ASIA’S DAY: Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 gained 0.1 percent to finish at 18,355.26. Markets in Australia and Hong Kong were closed for Easter. South Korea’s Kospi added 0.5 percent to 2,145.76. The Shanghai Composite index slipped 0.7 percent to 3,222.17 and markets in Southeast Asia were mostly lower.
OIL: Benchmark U.S. crude lost 45 cents to $52.73 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. On Friday, the New York Mercantile Exchange and the London Metal Exchange were closed. Brent crude, used to price international oils, fell 50 cents to $55.39 per barrel in London.
CURRENCIES: The dollar was trading at 108.36 yen, down from 108.89 yen late Friday in Asia. The euro fell to $1.0634 from $1.0626.