World shares meander following US-led air strikes on Syria

GLOBAL shares were mixed in Asia yesterday, with Chinese benchmarks leading declines in Asia. The air strikes on Syria appeared to be having scant impact on trading, and oil prices fell back. Eyes were on Chinese GDP data due today.

KEEPING SCORE

The FTSE 100 in Britain dropped 0.4 per cent to 7,236.05 while Germany’s DAX added 0.2 per cent to 12,464.26. The CAC 40 in France was flat at 5,316.11.

The future for the S&P 500 climbed 0.6 per cent while the future for the Dow Jones industrial average was also up 0.6 per cent, pointing to early gains on Wall Street.

ASIA’S DAY

Japan’s Nikkei 225 index gained 0.3 per cent to 21,835.53, but Hong Kong’s Hang Seng dropped 1.6 per cent to 30,315.59 and the Shanghai Composite index sank 1.5 per cent to 3,110.65. South Korea’s Kospi edged 0.1 per cent higher to 2,457.49 and Australia’s S&P ASX 200 picked up 0.2 per cent to 5,841.30. Shares fell in Singapore and rose in Indonesia.

MIDDLE EAST

The leaders of Russia, Iran and the Hezbollah group in Lebanon said on Sunday that Western airstrikes on their ally Syria, targetting its chemical weapons programme, have complicated prospects for a political settlement to the country’s seven-year conflict.

Meanwhile, President Donald Trump on Sunday defended his use of the phrase ‘Mission Accomplished’ to describe the US-led missile attack, while his aides stressed continuing US troop involvement and plans for new economic sanctions against Russia for enabling the government of Bashar Assad.

ANALYST VIEWPOINT

“The markets are taking the surgical strike at the heart of Syria’s chemical weapon programme in stride as traders had priced in this outcome with a high degree of probability,” Stephen Innes of OANDA said in a commentary. He added, “With trade war and now Syria fatigue likely to set in, however, it’s best not to get too comfortable at this point as market risk sentiment swings will remain large this week.”

An investor monitors stock prices at a brokerage in Beijing. – AP

CHINA TRADE

The Trump administration on Friday targetted China and five other countries including allies Japan and South Korea for special monitoring for what the administration said are practises that are worsening America’s trade deficit. But the impact on financial markets in Asia was limited as it comes at a time of even harsher threats of US penalty tariffs on China and other nations.

CHINA ECONOMY

Chinese shares declined ahead of the release of economic growth data that are expected to show the economy overshooting the official target to sustain a 6.8 per cent annual pace in the first quarter of the year. Good news could lead regulators to tighten monetary policy, hurting share prices. Today’s report of monthly figures for March, the first since the lunar new year holidays, will provide fresh insights into conditions across the world’s number two economy.

ENERGY

Oil prices fell back from spikes last week on fears over an escalation of strife in the Middle East, with US benchmark crude falling 91 cents, or 1.3 per cent, to US$66.48 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It gained 32 cents on Friday to $67.39. Brent crude, which is used to price international oils, fell $1.02, or 1.4 per cent, to $71.56 per barrel.

CURRENCY

The dollar was trading at 107.21 yen, down from 107.36 yen late Friday. The euro edged higher, to $1.2366 from $1.2333. – AP