HONG KONG — Australian shares jumped Tuesday as the central bank kept rates unchanged and signaled they wouldn’t rise soon, while other world benchmarks retreated after North Korea claimed its first long-range missile launch.
KEEPING SCORE: European shares fell in early trading. France’s CAC 40 lost 0.1 percent to 5,190.02 and Germany’s DAX fell 0.1 percent txo 12,465.03. Britain’s FTSE 100 was down 0.2 percent to 7,365.75. U.S. markets will be closed for the July 4 holiday.
ASIAN SCORECARD: Australia’s S&P/ASX surged 1.8 percent to close at 5,783.80 while Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 index shed 0.1 percent to 20,032.35. South Korea’s Kospi declined 0.6 percent to 2,380.52 and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng slumped 1.5 percent to 25,389.01. The Shanghai Composite Index lost 0.4 percent to 3,182.80. Benchmarks in Taiwan and Southeast Asia also lost ground.
DECISION DOWN UNDER: Officials at the Reserve Bank of Australia kept interest rates unchanged at 1.5 percent following a monthly policy board meeting, saying it was the right level for sustainable economic growth and to hit inflation targets. More importantly, they indicated they wouldn’t follow counterparts in the U.S., Britain, Europe and Canada who have started raising rates or are considering doing so. “The outlook continues to be supported by the low level of interest rates,” the RBA said. Meanwhile, consumer confidence strengthened and retail sales rose for a second straight month, according to new data.
ROCKET LAUNCH: Shares in Seoul wobbled briefly after first reports that Pyongyang fired yet another ballistic missile toward Japan. Stocks resumed sliding as more details came in. North Korean state media said it was the country’s first successful test of an intercontinental ballistic missile, flying 933 kilometers (580 miles) for 39 minutes before falling into the sea.
MARKET VIEW: The missile launch is “sort of sending risk topsy turvy right now,” said Stephen Innes, senior trader at OANDA. “Markets are a little bit thin so there could possibly be an overreaction, given that liquidity is a bit edgy with the holiday-thinned U.S. market conditions.”
CASINO CRASH: Shares of Macau casino operators led declines on the Hang Seng Index, with Galaxy Entertainment tumbling 3.6 percent and Sands China down 1.8 percent. They extended losses for a second day after the Macau government released monthly casino revenue figures over the weekend that came in lower than analysts’ expectations.
ENERGY: Oil’s rally fizzled. Benchmark U.S. crude lost 20 cents to $46.87 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract gained $1.03 to settle at $47.07 a barrel in New York on Monday. Brent crude, used to price international oils, fell 20 cents to $49.48 a barrel in London.
CURRENCIES: The dollar eased to 113.20 yen from 113.42 in late trading Monday. The euro dipped to $1.1355 from $1.1361.