Asian markets lower, oil rises on Iran concerns

BEIJING (AP) – Asian stock markets were mostly lower while oil prices surged for a second day yesterday following reports Washington wants to block Iranian exports.

Tokyo’s benchmark edged up while Shanghai, Seoul and India retreated. Hong Kong and Sydney were closed for the holiday.

On Wall Street, the benchmark Standard & Poor’s (SAP) 500 index ended a shortened trading week last Thursday snapping a winning streak of three weekly gains.

Investors looked ahead to United States (US) quarterly gross domestic product due out last Friday. Also this week, the US reported new home sales last Tuesday while Japan announces factory output last Friday.

“The broad expectation is for US indices to grind higher,” said Jingyi Pan of IG Markets in a report.

People walk by an electronic stock board of a securities firm in Tokyo. – AP

“However, with prices nearing all-time highs, some sense of caution may be bound to set in,” Pan said. “Earnings and the first reading of US Q1 GDP at the end of the week would be key for markets.”

Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 index rose 12 points to 22,213.37 and Seoul’s Kospi gained 0.1 per cent to 2,218.47. The Shanghai Composite Index sank 1.4 per cent to 3,250.91.

Benchmarks in Taiwan and Singapore rose while Jakarta retreated.

Last Thursday, the S&P 500 gained 0.2 per cent to 2,905.03 before closing for holiday. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.4 per cent to 26,559.54. The Nasdaq composite added less than 0.1 per cent to 7,998.06.

Benchmark US crude surged USD1.55 to USD65.62 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose USD1.20 last Friday to close at USD64.07. Brent crude, used to price international oils, soared USD1.79 to USD73.76 per barrel in London. It gained 35 cents the previous session to USD71.97.