First Published: 2017-04-07

US attacks on Syria send shockwaves through global markets
Analysts say investors flocking to safety, causing gains in likes of gold, yen.
Middle East Online

LONDON - Global markets shook Friday, with stock indices largely downbeat but oil, gold and the yen higher after US missile strikes on Syria fanned geopolitical concerns.

In a busy day for markets, investors were awaiting key US monthly jobs data while keeping a watch over a second day of summit talks between Chinese President Xi Jinping and his US counterpart Donald Trump.

"News of last night's attack sent shockwaves through the markets, with investors flocking to safety, causing gains in the likes of gold and the yen," said Joshua Mahony, market analyst at IG trading group.

"A big surge in crude prices overnight were caused primarily by the prospects of an increasing US military involvement in the Middle East."

Trump ordered a huge assault on an airfield in retaliation for a chemical attack in Syria that Washington blamed on President Bashar al-Assad.

The attack came just hours after Russia warned that there could be "negative consequences" if the US took military action against Syria, which it is backing in a civil war.

"The untimely news of the US missile strike, coupled with tonight's impending US non-farm payrolls, have created increased anxiety among investors," Gary Huxtable, client adviser at Atlantic Pacific Securities, said in a note.

The US-China summit is meanwhile taking place after months of accusations by the US tycoon that Beijing was killing US jobs and manipulating its currency.

- Seeking a safe haven -

Also on the agenda is North Korea, with Washington concerned about the country's growing nuclear programme following a series of missile launches, the most recent coming this week.

On trading floors Friday, gold hit a near five-month high at $1,269.53 an ounce.

"Demand for safe havens has... pushed bonds, precious metals and both the yen and Swiss franc higher", said Accendo Markets analyst Mike van Dulken.

The euro dropped to 117.32 yen in Asian trading hours, the lowest level for more than four months.

Oil prices reached one-month highs as the attacks led to concerns about supplies in the Middle East.

That helped shares in energy firms rise around the world and pushed London's commodities-heavy FTSE 100 index into positive territory.

Weighing on the benchmark index were weaker-than-expected UK industrial production data that sparked concerns about weak growth overall for Britain's economy as it embarks on EU-exit negotiations.

Analysts were looking ahead also to Friday's official US Labor Department jobs report, which is expected to show that the world's biggest economy added 215,000 jobs in March and that unemployment held steady at 4.7 percent.

US stocks recovered Thursday from a sell-off the previous day spurred by Federal Reserve meeting minutes suggesting a more aggressive monetary tightening policy than the market had anticipated.

 

Turkey warns Syria against protecting Kurds

Two hardline Syria rebels announce merger

IS kills 25 Iraqi militiamen near Kirkuk

Sudan frees dozens of activists detained after protests

Saudi Arabia to host first Arab Fashion Week

Somalia appoints new police, intelligence chiefs

Iran plane crash rescue search halted for second night

France reaffirms commitment to Iran nuclear deal

Abbas warms up to Moscow amid cold US-Palestinian ties

Israel strikes 'historic' gas contract with Egypt

Are Iranian satellite channels aiding regime change?

Israel pounds Gaza with air strikes after rocket attack

Iraq orders deportation of French jihadist

Pro-Assad militias to enter Syria's Afrin

Three Egyptian soldiers killed in Sinai

Israeli, US officials meet over gas row with Lebanon

Iran's supreme leader says progress needed on justice

Syria Kurds claim striking positions in Turkey

Netanyahu warns Iran, brandishes piece of metal

66 feared dead as plane crashes in Iranian mountains

Saudi women to open businesses without male permission

Netanyahu slams 'outrageous' Holocaust remark by Polish PM

Israeli air strikes kill 2 in Gaza

Six suffer breathing difficulties after Turkish shelling in Afrin

Russian mercenaries - a discrete weapon in Syria

Iran protests ban on wrestler who threw bout to avoid Israel

Fears of expanding Syrian war could trigger peace deal

Battle to free Mosul of IS 'intellectual terrorism'

Turkey frees Garman-Turk journalist after one year without charge

Turkey hands life sentences to 3 journalists for Gulen links

Turkey, US agree to ‘work together’ in Syria

Thousands protest corruption in Tel Aviv amid PM indictment call

Prominent jihadist commander killed by rival Syria rebels

300 Russians killed in Syria battle last week

Tillerson, Erdogan have ‘productive, open’ talk

Iran raises rates, freezes accounts in bid to shore up rial

Kremlin says five Russians killed in US Syria strikes

Oman FM in rare visit by Arab official to Jerusalem

Senior IS leader extradited to Iraq from Turkey

Strikes hit another hospital in Syria's Idlib

Churches snub Jerusalem reception over tax dispute with Israeli authorities

Tillerson says US never gave 'heavy arms' to Kurdish YPG

Captured foreign IS suspects claim innocence

Yemeni mother awaits death penalty for spying for UAE

Fuel shortage shuts down Gaza's only power plant