Global shares gain, shrugging off North Korea concerns

Investors played down concerns over North Korea's launch of a long-range missile on Tuesday, sending shares higher in global trading on Wednesday. 

Trading was thin following the U.S. Independence Day holiday. Investors are looking ahead to the Group of 20 summit later this week in Hamburg, Germany. One economics research firm said the probability of military action after North Korea's missile launch remains "very small," and that the Trump administration has time to pursue other options. 

"Kim Jong Un's rogue state has brought North Asia a big step closer to the critical point at which investors can no longer rule out military action," wrote Yanmei Xie of Gavekal Research in a research note. "A shooting war on the Korean peninsula remains a tail risk, but that tail is now considerably fatter than it was 12 months ago. In the future, investors would be wise to place an additional risk premium on Korean and Japanese assets."

Xie noted that China may put more economic pressure on North Korea to placate the U.S., but that Beijing is likely to oppose sanctions that could bring a regime change or harm the North Korean economy. 

"Such a half-hearted response from Beijing will not satisfy Washington, which is likely to intensify its secondary sanctions on Chinese companies and individuals, alongside its direct sanctions on North Korea," Xie noted. 

KEEPING SCORE: Germany's DAX rose 0.2 percent to 12,465.80 and the CAC 40 of France also gained 0.2 percent, to 5,185.60. The FTSE 100 of Britain likewise added 0.2 percent, to 7,373.20. Shares in New York also were poised for a slow start, with S&P futures up 0.03 percent to 2,425.80, while Dow futures were flat.

NORTH KOREAN MISSILE: A day after Pyongyang successfully test fired its first intercontinental ballistic missile, North Korean state media boasted about the accomplishment. The U.S. and ally South Korea scrambled to respond to the test, firing "deep strike" precision missiles into South Korean waters, and the United Nations Security Council was set to hold an emergency meeting.

MARKET VIEW: "While North Korea's military ambitions are a background threat for markets, we don't think that this particular geopolitical event is at the stage yet where it will cause a spike in volatility," said Kathleen Brooks of City Index. "Far more important at this stage of the economic cycle is what global central bankers will do next."

G-20 SUMMIT: Leaders of the Group of 20 are expected to put forth competing visions of world trade when the summit begins Friday, with U.S. President Donald Trump's "America First" colliding with the European Union's push for broad trade deals like the one with Japan.

ASIA'S DAY: Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 index gained 0.3 percent to 20,081.63 and South Korea's Kospi added 0.3 percent to 2,388.35. Hong Kong's Hang Seng rose 0.5 percent to 25,521.97 and the Shanghai Composite index in mainland China jumped 0.8 percent to 3,207.13. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 fell 0.4 percent to 5,763.30, paring back gains made Tuesday ahead of the central bank's decision to stand pat on interest rates. Taiwan's benchmark gained and indexes in Southeast Asia also were mostly higher.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude lost 11 cents to $46.96 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It gained $1.03 on Tuesday. Brent crude, used to price international oils, rose 3 cents to $49.64 a barrel in London.

CURRENCIES: The dollar rose to 113.55 yen from 113.28 yen, while the euro rose to 1.1355 from $1.1348.