Asia stocks mostly down after Syria strike

Lloyd Doyle
April 17, 2018

The world's second-largest economy expanded by 6.8 percent over a year earlier, in line with the quarter ending in December and down slightly from 2017's full-year expansion of 6.9 percent, data showed Tuesday.

The dollar was barely changed, with demand for safe-haven U.S. Treasuries ebbing as risk appetite improved in parts of the broader market and investors took the view that Western-led strikes on Syria were a one-off intervention.

The 225-issue Nikkei Stock Average ended up 56.79 points, or 0.26 percent, from Friday at 21,835.53. USA shares were set to drift higher with the Dow future gaining 0.4 percent to 24,663.

Saturday's strikes were the biggest intervention by Western countries against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, whose ally Russian Federation is facing further US economic sanctions over its role in the conflict.

"The markets had been bracing for a possible escalation in Syria following President Trump's earlier warnings".

"Investors were relieved that the military action didn't expand further", said Masahiro Ichikawa, senior strategist at Sumitomo Mitsui Asset Management Co., as the strikes were limited to Syrian chemical weapons facilities and did not escalate into a direct confrontation with Russian Federation.

In commodity markets, gold gained 0.1 percent to $1,346.61 an ounce, but remained well short of last week's peak at $1,365.23. "But the big picture is that economic momentum did hold up fairly well in Q1, with the easing of pollution controls sparking a recovery in industrial activity", Julian Evans-Pritchard of Capital Economics said in a commentary.

Most Asian markets fell on Monday after a US-led strike on Syrian targets fuelled fresh concerns over the tinderbox Middle East, though analysts said investors were hopeful the crisis would not escalate.

The dollar index against a basket of six major currencies was little changed at 89.407 .dxy after losing 0.4 percent overnight.

The euro was steady at $1.2377. Against the yen, the US dollar edged down slightly to trade at 107.21 late in the afternoon session, after touching as high as 107.61 earlier in the session.

The pound rose to $1.4355, its highest since June 2016, with focus on data that could cement expectations of a May interest-rate increase from the Bank of England.

Property firms in Hong Kong took a hit on fears of an end to the era of low-interest rates as the city's de facto central bank was forced to support the local dollar, which is at 7.85 to the greenback, the lowest end of its band with the United States unit.

The 10-year U.S. Treasury note yield was at 2.834 percent after rising to 2.865 on Monday, its highest since March 22.

United States crude oil futures rose 0.4% to $66.49 a barrel after tumbling almost 1.8% overnight as the concern over tension in the Middle East waned.

Aluminium on the London Metal Exchange was at $2,386 per ton after surging 5 percent to $2,403 on Monday, its highest since September 2011.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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