SYDNEY, April 16 2018 : Asian share markets were mixed and oil prices fell today as relief that U.S.-led strikes on Syria looked unlikely to escalate was tempered by concerns at Russia’s potential reaction to new sanctions from Washington.
With the situation in the Middle East still fluid, moves were modest and in both directions. EMini futures for the S&P 500 nudged up 0.38 percent, while Japan’s Nikkei .N225 added 0.2 percent.
Yet MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan slipped 0.4 percent as Chinese blue chips .CSI300 took an early 0.7 percent dip.
The United States, France and Britain launched 105 missiles targeting what the Pentagon said were three chemical weapons facilities in Syria in retaliation for a suspected poison gas attack in Douma on April 7.
But with President Donald Trump declaring mission accomplished, investors wagered the worst had been avoided.
“Stocks were concerned about a prolonged and expanded U.S. campaign toward Assad and that doesn’t look probable.”
Safe-haven assets eased in response, with yields on U.S. 10-year Treasury debt up two basis points at 2.84 percent.
The dollar was a fraction firmer on the yen at 107.40 JPY=, up on last week’s low around 106.62.
Dealers were keeping a wary eye on Japanese politics after a survey showed support for Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had fallen to 26.7 percent, the lowest since he took office in late 2012.
Abe’s sliding ratings are raising doubts over whether he can win a third three-year term as ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) leader in a September vote, or whether he might even resign before the party election.
The euro was steady at $1.2330 EUR=, while the dollar index eased a touch to 89.772.
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.
Oil prices slipped with Brent crude futures off 66 cents at $71.92 a barrel, while U.S. crude fell 56 cents to $66.83 a barrel.
Looking ahead, the U.S. earnings season kicks into high gear this week with Thomson Reuters data predicting profits at S&P 500 companies increased by 18.6 percent in the first quarter from a year ago, their biggest rise in seven years.
Yet with expectations so high, bank shares ran into profit-taking on Friday after a batch of mixed results.
The United States reports retail sales later today and there are around 15 Federal Reserve speakers in the diary for the week.
Also this week, the IMF will hold its spring meetings of central bankers and finance ministers in Washington. – Reuters