Yen, bonds, safe-haven gold gain after North Korea’s ‘hydrogen bomb’ test

A woman counts Japanese 10,000 yen notes in Tokyo. Photo: Reuters Japanese yen-Monday as North Korea latest nuclear test provoked the usual knee-jerk shift to safe havens, though equity losses were modest amid expectations the flare-up would prove fleeting.The dollar was marked down as deep as 109.22 yen at the opening, off a whole yen from late on Friday, but there was no follow-through selling and it was last at 109.84.

Japan is the world’s largest creditor nation and traders tend to assume Japanese investors would repatriate funds at times of crisis, thus pushing up the yen. Many wonder, however, if Japanese assets would really remain in favour if an actual war broke out in Asia.Japan’s Nikkei did not take the news well, losing 0.9 per cent. MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan dipped 0.4 per cent with South Korea’s main index down 0.6 per cent.

“Like a bad horror movie, the North Korea saga intersperses moments of calm, with occasional action to jolt you out of your chair,” said ING’s head of Asian research than Rob Carnell.”But we have been here now many, many times,” he added. “Unless this is the precursor to US military action, which we doubt, then in a little over a day or two, tensions will calm again, making this a good buying opportunity for investors with a strong enough nerve.”

North Korea on Sunday conducted its sixth and most powerful nuclear test, which it said was of an advanced hydrogen bomb for a long-range missile, prompting the threat of a “massive” military response from the United States if it or its allies were threatened.

US job growth slowed more than expected in August after two straight months of hefty increases. Nonfarm payrolls increased by 156,000 last month, while economists had forecast an increase of 180,000.On a brighter note, the Institute for Supply Management reported its factory activity index soared to 58.8 in August, the highest reading since April 2011.

 

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GST impact: Gold import surge from South Korea alarms govt 

Gold

A month after goods and services tax (GST) roll-out, a sudden deluge of gold imports from free trade partner South Korea has alarmed New Delhi. Swinging into action, the government is examining several options, including levy of safeguard duty on gold imports from South Korea to plug the route. Officials brainstormed on the matter through Tuesday, it is learnt. Among others, Revenue Secretary Hasmukh Adhia met Commerce Secretary Rita Teaotia to assess the situation.

In July itself, 8,400 kg of gold, essentially in coins, came to the country from South Korea, compared to almost nil last year in the same month. Sources said that traders may be exploiting the favourable reduction in tax incidence under GST by routing imports through Seoul, to take advantage of the India-Korea Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA), the free trade pact.

”There is a sharp rise in gold imports after GST implementation, only from South Korea. We are looking at all options available to us as this is a big cause of concern. Before July, we were not getting gold coins or gold medallions, which we are getting now,” said a senior government official. He added that the FTA route should not be misused as it is going to impact the local domestic market. The ministry of finance recently notified rules under the India-Korea FTA, empowering the Director General of Safeguards to slap duty on such imports.

import from Korea is exempted from customs duty under the 2009 agreement, and the importer only has to pay 3 per cent IGST. Until June, the excise duty on gold and jewellery was 12.5 per cent

Indians are stocking up on gold, jewellery demand soars 41% in Q2CY17: WGC 

Gold, Jewelry, Shop, Sales

India’s insatiable appetite for gold jewellery was evident once again in the second quarter of calendar year 2017 (Q2CY17). The total demand for gold jewellery surged to 126.7 tonnes, rising 41% as compared to the previous corresponding period, suggests the latest report by the World Gold Council titled ‘Gold Demand Trends Q2 2017’.

At a global level, the overall demand for gold jewellery in Q2’17 surged 8% year-on-year (y-o-y) to 480.8 tonnes, the report says. The strong recovery, WGC believes, had been widely expected after exceptional import figures were reported, hitting an all-time high of 104.6 tonnes in May as the market stockpiled gold ahead of the goods and services tax (GST) rate announcement.

“Expecting a punitive GST rate, jewellers and consumers alike crammed their purchases into the first two months of the quarter, slowing down once the government confirmed that a 3% rate would be applied,” WGC says.

That apart, WGC also attributes the rise in gold jewellery demand to the festival of Akshaya Tritiya – a key gold-buying festival in the Hindu calendar. The timing of the festival this year, it says, falling over a weekend and coinciding with a dip in the gold prices saw sales rise nearly 30% y-o-y .Read More