U.S. stock futures fall, yen gains after North Korea fires missile over Japan

TOKYO (Reuters) - U.S. stock futures fell almost one percent and the yen jumped to four-month highs against the dollar in early Asian trade on Tuesday after North Korea fired a missile over northern Japan, setting up a tense start to trading for markets in the region.

FILE PHOTO - A man walks past an electronic screen displaying the Nikkei share average as cherry blossoms are in full bloom outside a brokerage in Tokyo March 22, 2013. REUTERS/Toru Hanai

S&P mini futures ESc1 fell as much as 0.85 percent on the news and last stood at 2,443, down 0.7 percent from their U.S. close on Monday, when they held mostly flat.

The Nikkei futures traded in Chicago NKc1 suggested Japanese markets were braced for a rocky start, with a sharp fall of 2.0 percent indicated in the benchmark Nikkei share average .N225.

North Korea fired a missile early on Tuesday that flew over Japan and landed in the Pacific waters off the northern region of Hokkaido, South Korea and Japan said, in a sharp escalation of tensions on the Korean peninsula.

“The missile flew across Japan this time, so the implications will likely be a bit different from previous ones,” said Hirokazu Kabeya, chief global strategist at Daiwa Securities.

The yen rose 0.8 percent to 108.33 to the dollar, its highest since April, despite Japan’s proximity to North Korea.

The yen tends to benefit during times of geopolitical or financial stress as Japan is the world’s biggest creditor nation and there is an assumption that Japanese investors will repatriate funds should a crisis materialise.

The safe-haven Swiss franc also advanced 0.5 percent to 0.9510 franc on the dollar CHF=, its highest level in about a month and rose 0.6 percent to 1.1385 per euro EURCHF=.

Gold XAU= also jumped 0.9 percent to $1,324 per ounce, hitting its highest level since Nov 9.

On Monday, U.S. shares were narrowly mixed as investors tried to assess the flooding damage caused by Tropical Storm Harvey, powerful hurricane to strike Texas in more than 50 years when it came ashore on Friday.

U.S. gasoline priced RBc1 surged as much as 7 percent to a peak of $1.7799 per gallon on Monday, the highest since late July 2015. It last stood at $1.7317 in early Tuesday trade.

On the other hand, U.S. Crude oil prices CLc1 hit one-month lows, on worries refinery shutdowns due to the flooding could boost inventory.

U.S. crude futures stood at $46.73 per barrel in early trade after having fallen to as low as $46.15 on Monday.