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Do warnings count as an escalation? When it comes to North Korea, sometimes it can be a little hard to tell.

On a visit to South Korea, US Vice-president Mike Pence said Washington wanted Pyongyang to abandon nuclear weapons and end its “unacceptable” missile tests. But a senior North Korean official said the country “will test missiles weekly”. In any case, each side has been thoroughly warned by the other that it is in the wrong.

Meanwhile US Treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin has conceded that the Trump administration’s timetable for ambitious tax reforms is set to slip following setbacks in negotiations with Congress over healthcare. Mr Mnuchin described the target of getting tax reforms through Congress and on the president’s desk before August as “highly aggressive and not realistic at this point”.

US equities extended opening gains on Monday while European and the UK markets were closed for the Easter holiday, while haven buying overnight in Asia on regional tensions showed signs of easing slightly, with US Treasury prices and the Japanese yen pulling back from recent peaks.

In Asia Pacific equities, futures tip Sydney’s S&P/ASX 200 index to dip 0.3 per cent at the open, while Tokyo’s Topix is set to climb 0.8 per cent when trading starts and in Hong Kong the Hang Seng is expected to open 0.2 per cent lower.

Corporate earnings reports out today include Tata Consultancy Services, Nippon Accomodations Fund, Poly Real Estate, Tsinghua Tongfang and Zhejiang Longsheng Group.

The economic calendar for Tuesday is quiet… too quiet (all times Hong Kong):

  • 09.30: China major city property prices
  • 09.30: Reserve Bank of Australia April meeting minutes

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