South Korea stocks fall as tensions on the peninsula reignite

SINGAPORE — South Korean stocks fell on Thursday as tensions on the Korean Peninsula reignited.

The Kospi in South Korea dropped 2.59% to close at 2,272.70 while the Kosdaq index plunged 4.33% to end its trading day at 806.95. 

The moves came following reports that South Korea’s defense ministry said North Korea had killed a missing official from the South earlier this week. It marked the first time since July 2008 that a South Korean civilian has been shot dead in North Korea, according to South Korean news agency Yonhap.

Shares of South Korean defense firm Victek soared 25.13% following the announcement, while North Korea exposed stocks Hanil Hyundai Cement and Hyundai Elevator slipped 2.76% and 1.12%, respectively.

Asia-Pacific markets decline

Elsewhere, other Asia-Pacific markets also saw losses, following an overnight drop on Wall Street.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index fell 1.82% to close at 23,311.07. Mainland Chinese stocks slipped on the day, with the Shanghai composite down 1.72% to approximately 3,223.18 while the Shenzhen component declined 2.238% to about 12,816.61.

The Taiex in Taiwan dropped 2.54% to close at 12,264.38. In Japan, the Nikkei 225 fell 1.11% to finish its trading day at 23,087.82 while the Topix index shed 1.08% to close at 1,626.44.

Over in Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 declined 0.81% on the day to 5,875.90.

Overall, the MSCI Asia ex-Japan index fell 1.93%.

Tech shares decline

Technology stocks in Asia took a hit on Thursday, following losses seen by their counterparts stateside.

In Japan, conglomerate Softbank Group saw its stock drop 4.52%. Kakao in South Korea also fell 3.69%. In Hong Kong, shares of Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi slipped 4.84% while Tencent declined 1.75%, with the Hang Seng Tech index falling 3.35% on the day to 7,054.28. Meanwhile, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company shares in Taiwan shed 2.42%.

The tech heavy Nasdaq Composite has fallen 9.7% so far this month as investors rotate out of the sector. Big Tech stocks like Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix, Alphabet and Microsoft are all down at least 11% in September.

Oil prices slip

Oil prices were lower in the afternoon of Asian trading hours, with international benchmark Brent crude futures down 0.79% to $41.44 per barrel. U.S. crude futures also slipped 0.75% to $39.63 per barrel.

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, sat at 94.425 following its rise from levels below 93 this week.

The Japanese yen traded at 105.34 per dollar after weakening from levels around 105 yesterday. The Australian dollar was at $0.7046 after falling yesterday from above $0.712.

— CNBC’s Berkeley Lovelace Jr. contributed to this report.

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