European Stocks Called Lower as North Korea Missile Test Rattles Rally

North Korea’s latest missile test over Japan has shaken, but not stirred, global equity markets.

European stocks are expected to open modestly lower Friday as global markets react to another missile launch from North Korea over Japan just days after the United Nations agreed tougher sanctions on Pyongyang.

Benchmarks in Europe are expected to drift around 0.05% at the start of trading, according to financial bookmakers IG, with Britain’s FTSE 100 held down by the ongoing surge in the pound, which topped the 1.34 mark against the U.S. dollar for the first time in more than a year.

The overnight launch flew more than 3,700 kilometres, Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said, and landed in the sea around 2,000 kilometres east of the island of Hokaido.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said that “continued provocations only deepen North Korea’s diplomatic and economic isolation”, and urged tougher sanctions. The U.N. Security Council is slated to meet later today to discuss the issue.

Markets in Asia, however, were largely inured to the deepening political tensions, with the broadest measure of regional share prices, the MSCI Asia ex-Japan index, marked 0.13% higher by 07:15 London time and the Nikkei 225 in Japan holding on to a 0.58% gain into the close of trading to end the week just 79 points shy of the 20,000 mark.

The U.S. dollar index, which measures the greenback against a basket of six global currencies, slipped 0.1% to 92.09 even as Treasury bond yield rose yesterday following faster-than-expected inflation data that added to speculation that the Federal Reserve could raise interest rates at least one more time before the end of the year.

Global oil prices retreated overnight and into the early portion of European trading, with West Texas Intermediate crude slipping 18 cents to around $49.71 from Thursday’s New York close after topping $50 for the first time in five weeks. Brent contracts for November, the global benchmark, were seen 0.36% lower at $55.27 but still look set to book their third consecutive weekly gain.

Early indications from U.S. equity futures suggest a mixed open on Wall Street, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average priced to edge just a few points higher while the broader S&P 500 and tech-focused Nasdaq slip marginally into the red.

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