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Asian markets shrug off latest North Korean missile test

Global equity markets had a muted beginning to the week, with holidays set to slow activity world-wide, as investors shrugged off North Korea’s latest missile launch.

North Korea fired an unidentified projectile within about 320 kilometers of Japan’s coastline, marking the third week in a row that it has launched a missile.

“The market is quite desensitized” at this point, said Jingyi Pan, a market strategist at IG Group.

Monday’s launch occurred as markets in China and Taiwan are closed for holidays. Markets in the U.K. and U.S. will also be closed for holidays.

There was no sign of investors seeking safety; gold and currencies were little changed. Some previous North Korean missile launches caused some yen selling, but market participants have become less concerned by North Korea’s actions over time.

The Nikkei Stock Average

NIK, +0.13%

  was recently up 0.2%, though steel stocks like Nippon f

5401, -2.69%

  and JFE

5411, -2.52%

  fell about 2.5% due to falling prices for their products.

Australia’s S&P/ASX 200

XJO, -0.25%

  rose 0.1% after starting off slightly lower. Bank stocks continued to fall Monday.

South Korean stocks continued to power further into record territory, with the Kospi

SEU, +0.46%

  climbing 0.7%.

The British pound was of particular interest after it logged its biggest decline against the U.S. dollar in four months on Friday after an opinion poll showed a decline in support for the ruling Conservatives and a resurgence for the Labour Party. Other polls released over the weekend showed similar results, highlighting the prospect of Prime Minister Theresa May having a weaker hand for Brexit-related negotiations following next month’s vote. The pound

GBPUSD, +0.1172%

  was little changed Monday in Asia.

Investors are taking note of manufacturing data later this week via purchasing-managers reports and Friday’s U.S. jobs report. The latter is likely to be of “elevated in importance” with money managers using it as a gauge to guide their expectations, said Ms. Pan.

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