Asian markets fall as investors fret over tensions in Koreas

SEOUL: Asian shares fell Friday as investors fretted over rising geopolitical tensions, especially the situation on the Korean Peninsula. Many markets around the world were closed for Good Friday holidays.

KEEPING SCORE: Tokyo's Nikkei 225 lost 0.5 percent to 18,335.63 and South Korea's Kospi slipped 0.6 percent to 2,134.88. The Shanghai Composite index dropped 0.9 percent to 3,246.07. Markets in Hong Kong, Singapore and other Southeast Asian countries were closed.

Markets in Europe and the US were shut for the Good Friday holiday.

NORTH KOREA: Analysts said investors were seeking safe havens on concern North Korea may be planning a nuclear test. As it prepares for the 105th anniversary of the birth of its founder Kim Il Sung on Saturday, North Korean has intensified its rhetoric, warning of strong retaliation against any aggression as US-South Korea hold military exercises.

ANALYST'S VIEWPOINT: "Geopolitics seemed to dominate over the past week with the ramifications of the US' missile strike on Syria still reverberating and tensions around North Korea steadily building," Shane Oliver, chief economist at AMP Capital, said in a commentary. "The issues around Syria are likely to settle down assuming US involvement does not escalate, but North Korea is more risky."

WALL STREET: US stocks finished lower for the third straight day on Thursday as energy stocks led the decline. The Standard & Poor's 500 index slid 0.7 percent to 2,328.95. The Dow Jones industrial average fell 0.7 percent to 20,453.25. The Nasdaq composite index lost 0.5 percent to 5,805.15.

OIL: On Friday, the New York Mercantile Exchange and the London Metal Exchange were closed. On Thursday, benchmark US crude rose 7 cents to close at $53.18 per barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, added 3 cents to close at $55.89 per barrel in London.

CURRENCIES: The dollar resumed its fall after briefly bouncing back from its slide. The dollar weakened following President Donald Trump's comment in an interview with The Wall Street Journal that the dollar was "getting too strong." The dollar was trading at 108.89 yen, down from 109.12 yen. The euro rose slightly to $1.0626 from $1.0616.