Asian stocks down on death of North Korean leader Kim Jong Il

Currency traders in South Korea
REPORTING FROM SEOUL -– Asian stocks tumbled Monday with the news of the death of North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, with South Korean shares falling by as much as 5%.

The South Korean won fell 1.8% after news of Kim’s death on Saturday from a heart attack was announced around midday here.

Seoul’s KOSPI index slumped by 90 points after the announcement was made. However, market watchers said they did not believe that the nation’s credit ratings would drop.

PHOTOS: Kim Jong Il | 1942-2011

In Japan, the U.S. dollar rose half a percentage point against the yen, while S&P futures fell by a similar margin, 0.5%. Meanwhile, Tokyo's Nikkei share average, which was closed for mid-session break at the time of the announcement, was down 0.8%.

Asia Pacific shares outside of Japan, which had been down nearly 2% before the announcement of Kim’s death, fell as much as 2.6%, according to market statistics.

“What investors don’t like most is uncertainty,” one Seoul-based fund manager told Bloomberg. “Amid the very limited information over his death, it’s very tricky to guess what will happen.”

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-- John M. Glionna

Photo: Currency traders talk in front of the screens showing the Korea Composite Stock Price Index, left, and foreign exchange rates at the foreign exchange dealing room of the Korea Exchange Bank headquarters in Seoul on Monday, Dec. 19, 2011.  Credit: Lee Jin-man/Associated Press

 
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