Subdued as NKorea tensions weigh

JAKARTA: Southeast Asian stocks ended largely flat on Thursday as investors fretted about the simmering tensions between the United States and North Korea, even as the previous day's rush to safe-haven assets appeared to slow.
Risk appetite in the region took a hit after North Korea said it was considering plans for a missile strike on the U.S. island territory of Guam, just hours after U.S. President Donald Trump warned that any threat to the United States would be met with "fire and fury". 
Any news of a war or tension is always a reason for a sell-off, said Mikey Macainag, an analyst with Sunsecurities Inc, adding that the regional markets were at greater risk owing to Southeast Asia's proximity to the epicentre of the crisis.
MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan  dipped 0.7 percent, after briefly trading in positive territory earlier in the day.
There is a lack of confidence in the market due to tensions as everybody is fearing a war, added Macainag.
In Southeast Asia, Philippines ended 0.3 percent lower, with consumer and energy stocks leading the losses.
"Some of the earnings disappointed, but some are just in line with the estimates. Investors are in a risk-off mode ahead of GDP data expected next week," Macainag added.           
The biggest loser on the index, JG Summit Holdings Inc  lost 6.2 percent, while Petron Corp ended 2.5 percent lower.
The country's central bank left its benchmark interest rate unchanged on Thursday, in line with expectations. Malaysia ended flat as gains in consumer staples offset losses in consumer cyclicals. Government data showed industrial production in June rose 4 percent from a year earlier.
Bucking the trend, Singapore shares closed marginally higher. The index gained as much as 0.8 percent earlier in the day, but gains were trimmed after financials reversed course.