You are here

Yen steady after North Korea missile launch

[SINGAPORE] The yen held steady against the US dollar on Friday, having risen earlier as North Korea fired a missile over Japan into the Pacific Ocean, rekindling investor concerns over geopolitical risks.

In early Asian trade on Friday the US dollar slid from around 110.25 yen to as low as 109.55 yen shortly after reports of North Korea's missile launch.

The US dollar later pared its losses, however, and was last trading at 110.19 yen, little changed from late US trade on Thursday.

Japan is the world's largest net creditor nation, and at times of uncertainty traders assume Japanese repatriation of overseas funds will eclipse foreign investors' selling of Japanese assets.

As a result, the yen has continued to operate as a safe-haven currency despite Japan's geographical proximity to North Korea.

Against the Swiss franc, another safe haven, the US dollar was steady on the day at 0.9635, after slipping as low as 0.9614 in early Asian trade.

While financial markets may stay jittery for now, the overall market reaction to North Korea's missile launch will probably prove short-lived, market participants said.

Masashi Murata, currency strategist for Brown Brothers Harriman in Tokyo, said the market had expected North Korea might retaliate against the latest sanctions imposed on Pyongyang by the UN Security Council.

The US dollar was unlikely to see any large fall against the yen, especially after the latest US consumer inflation data bolstered expectations that the Fed could raise interest rates again by year-end, Mr Murata added.

"US rate rise expectations have risen compared to what was seen in early September, pushing up US bond yields and I think that is supporting the dollar versus the yen," he said.

North Korea fired a missile on Friday that flew over Japan's northern island of Hokkaido far out into the Pacific Ocean, South Korean and Japanese officials said, further ratcheting up tensions after Pyongyang's recent test of a powerful nuclear bomb.