NZ dollar falls as greenback recovers with weakening Irma

The FTSE 100 rose nearly 0.5% or 35.99 points to 7,413.59 points

USA stock-index futures pointed to a higher open for Wall Street on Monday, as Hurricane Irma hit Florida with less force than expected and North Korea failed to conduct another nuclear missile test over the weekend, reviving investor appetite for riskier assets such as equities.

At 1105 BST, Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 futures were up 0.6%, while Nasdaq futures were 0.8% higher. "It does appear that the worst-case scenario for Florida has been evaded", said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at First Standard Financial in NY.

North Korea marked the 69th anniversary of its founding on Saturday without resorting to any further missile or nuclear tests, fuelling some unwinding of safe-haven bets such as gold and government debt and pushing shares higher.

The single currency dropped 0.41 percent to $1.1984, pulling back from the 2-1/2-year high of $1.2108 hit on Friday. "The market has gone back up to where we were in early August before these North Korea fears". It's caused severe flooding and knocked out power to millions, but the storm weakened shortly before it came ashore.

HCI Group jumped $5, or 16.3 percent, to $35.78 while Heritage Insurance gained $2.22, or 23.7 percent, to $11.59. European insurers were also gaining on Monday, amid some signs Irma's impact may be less than expected.

The two-year swap rate rose 2 basis points to 2.15 percent while the 10-year swaps rose 3 basis points to 3.05 percent.

Key US oil contract West Texas Intermediate sank 3.3 percent Friday while European benchmark Brent North Sea crude slid 1.3 percent in value. Home Depot dropped $2.05, or 1.3 percent, to $157.61 and Lowe's declined $1.09, or 1.4 percent, to $77.47.

"North Korea did not launch a new missile, and Hurricane Irma was downgraded, though still looks like it will cause considerable damage, and mess up all the economic data for the next month or so".

Meanwhile, speculative investment in gold increased as hedge funds and money managers raised their net long position in COMEX gold for the eighth week in a row to the highest in almost a year.

The most severe United Nations sanctions so far against North Korea, imposed just weeks ago, introduced a complete ban on coal and iron exports, blocked worldwide sales of North Korean lead ore and seafood and imposed travel bans and asset freezes on individuals and companies.

Apple rose 1.5 percent to $161.07, giving the biggest boost to the S&P and the Nasdaq, a day ahead of the expected launch of its new iPhone.

The dollar hovered at ¥108.50, up from Friday's 10-month trough of ¥107.32. The euro dipped to $1.2016 from $1.2038.

US crude was trading 36 cents firmer at 47.84 dollars a barrel, while Brent rose 22 cents to 56.00 dollars. The KBW Nasdaq Insurance index rose 1.8%, almost wiping out its 1.9% drop last week.

Tokyo's Nikkei 225 had risen 1.4% after Pyongyang held a celebration to congratulate the nuclear scientists and technicians who steered the country's sixth and largest nuclear test a week earlier. South Korea's Kospi advanced 0.7 percent and Hong Kong's Hang Seng added 1 percent.

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