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U.S. stock market indexes posted gains in Friday’s trading, a change in direction after several down days amid tensions between President Donald Trump and North Korea.
In New York, the Standard & Poor’s 500 index and the Dow Jones industrial average each advanced about one-tenth of a percentage point, while the Nasdaq composite index rose almost eight-tenths of a percentage point. Earlier, stocks in Paris and London were off 1 percent, while Hong Kong stocks fell 2 percent and Korean shares slid nearly as much.
Global stock prices had been falling for several days, losing nearly $1 trillion in value during angry exchanges between the U.S. and North Korea, which continued Friday.
Investors have reason for concern, according to Rajiv Biswas, Asia-Pacific chief economist of IHS Markit. He said the economic consequences of even a conventional conflict would most likely be “horrific” and “devastate” the South Korean economy, hurting that nation’s trading partners, particularly Japan.
In an email exchange with VOA, Biswas called the possibility that North Korea could actually use nuclear weapons a “nightmare but still low probability scenario” and noted there had been prior incidents of rising tensions on the peninsula.
A similar view came from Brad McMillan, chief investment officer for Commonwealth Financial Network, who wrote, “All parties, including the North Koreans, have substantial incentives to once again cut a deal rather than fight. Based on past crises, there will be a great deal of theater, only to end in some kind of deal.”
He wrote that military action was “unlikely” in the short term, suggesting “worry is overdone at the moment.” But he wrote that military action “is actually very possible in the medium term.”
McMillan wrote that such a conflict could have “dramatic and substantial” impact on many economies because South Korea “is a major trading and manufacturing hub.” That means “disruption there would break supply chains around the world” and might last “for months or years.”
He wrote that rising uncertainty would prompt money to move out of stocks and into less risky investments, which would drive down stock market prices: “Clearly, there are real reasons to try to avoid a war.”